Planned Gift of Estate Reflects Couple's Deep Commitment to Duke
Duke is very much a part of Krista Patterson AB’03, JD’06, LLM’06, and Jonathan Wigser, MBA’94’s personal and volunteer life. They got engaged and married at Duke, and between the two of them hold four Duke degrees and have served on five councils and boards.
In honor of their deep connection to Duke, the couple has made a planned gift commitment of their estate to be split equally between the School of Medicine, Duke Cancer Institute, Duke Children’s, and Fuqua School of Business.
“When we sat down to do our planning, the gift was a natural fit for us,” said Patterson. “We have so much involvement with Duke and with these specific aspects of the university.”
Wigser added, “All are institutions that we’ve seen demonstrate incredible success, incredible professionalism, and incredible care and empathy for the people they take care of.”
On meeting the couple, you can’t help but notice their air of calm confidence, capability, and curiosity. When Wigser graduated in 1994, the leadership at Fuqua recognized these qualities and invited him to serve on their alumni council. He served in a number of capacities before joining the Fuqua Board of Visitors.
“When I left the board, I realized I wanted to stay involved philanthropically with Duke,” he said. “It was such a positive experience. I was learning so much and meeting incredible people that when I was asked to join the Duke Cancer Institute (DCI) Board of Advisors, I did.”
Wigser began serving on the DCI board in 2010 and chaired it from 2017 to 2022. In honor of his service, leadership, and incredible commitment to DCI, Wigser was presented with the William W. Shingleton award in 2021. The award recognizes the outstanding service and generosity of individuals committed to advancing the fight against cancer.
He now serves on the School of Medicine Board of Visitors in addition to DCI’s Board of Advisors.
“One of the unique things I've learned about Duke is the more you do, the more you're asked to do and the more you're given the opportunity to do,” Wigser said. “And that's pretty special. That doesn't happen just everywhere, and I found that challenge to be really enjoyable. I met incredible faculty, administrators, and fellow alumni. And the more people I met, the more I’ve been impressed with the overall institution.”
As an undergraduate, Patterson attended the annual holiday parties at Duke Children's and volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House. Carrying that connection forward, she now serves on Duke Children's National Leadership Council.
Through their board service, the couple understands the value of unrestricted gifts that can be directed toward each institutions’ highest priority. “We know it works,” Wigser said. “For example, without unrestricted gifts the progress Duke has made using the polio virus to treat glioblastomas would never have happened. A lot of really interesting research is too early-phase to get grants, so absent having a mechanism that allows the administration to fund some of these things, you're never going to have those types of moonshots. Moreover, you just never know year to year what's going to happen. I mean, two years ago we were in the middle of a pandemic, and what the entire health system went through here was devastating. So having unrestricted dollars in a situation like that is really important as well.”
School of Medicine Dean Mary E. Klotman, MD, Duke University’s executive vice president for health affairs, said supporters like Wigser and Patterson are essential to Duke Health’s success in meeting its missions of patient care, research, education, and community partnerships.
“This gift will enable us to direct resources where they can have the biggest impact,” Klotman said. “We could not carry out our important work and maintain the level of excellence that Duke is known for without the generosity and service of our friends and partners.”
Providing unrestricted support reflects their deep trust and respect of Duke’s talented faculty and leadership to direct the funding where it is most needed.
“We also very much trust the leadership and the development department here,” Patterson said. “We know that our money will be used well.”
By Wendy Graber
Photo by LKT Photography
November 11, 2023