Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

March 6, 2014 Volume 35, No. 22

Animal lovers make $2.5 million estate gift to vet med

Alternate text

Barbara Stampfli-Savill and Gary Savill researched a number of veterinary colleges across the nation before settling on making the gift to MU’s. Photo by Rob Hill.

Endowment will support 50 percent scholarships for as many as 10 students

Gary Savill and Barbara Stampfli-Savill were looking for an animal welfare group to support when they read a St. Louis Business Journal story last year about a Town and Country, Mo., couple who made a $5 million estate gift to MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine. 

Impressed by the animal care the college provided and the medical breakthroughs described in the story, they decided to find a veterinary college to support through their growing estate. Gary, a retired executive with Dell computers, and Barbara, a human resources executive, had no children — no human ones anyway. Their “kids” are a black Labrador retriever named Shelby and a chocolate Lab named Abby. Both are rescue dogs from Florida.

With no ties to Mizzou, they talked to veterinary schools across the country but felt an immediate connection with the people at MU. 

A year later, standing at a podium of the Reynolds Alumni Center, the St. Louis couple announced their $2.5 million estate gift to support vet med student scholarships. Their endowment will pay half of the tuition and fees for as many as 10 veterinary students. Preference will be given to those with financial need and those from underrepresented ethnic groups. Recipients will be required to perform 120 hours of animal-related volunteer work annually, extending the benefits of the endowment into the community.

Barbara’s father died two years ago from cancer. Her mother had already passed. As executor of her dad’s estate, she was confronted with her own mortality, which prompted their search for a worthy cause.

“If there’s something our endowment can do to further find [cancer] treatments…” she said at the announcement before breaking down in tears.

“It’s very close to home,” Gary said, stepping in. “It meant a lot personally to us.”

Gary and Barbara are both 44 years old, born four days apart. Having an end goal in mind has given them greater focus in spending their money, Gary said. 

“We used to be very good at going out and spending money on stuff,” he said during his remarks. “We just came back from vacation last year, and every time we purchased something, we weren’t purchasing it just for the enjoyment we got from looking at the stuff, we’re thinking, What is that going to be worth to the estate when we pass to build the estate bigger, to benefit more?”

Gary was also impressed with the efficiency of creating an endowment at MU versus giving to an animal welfare charity that might spend only a small percentage of the money on animal welfare. “What we’re doing, someone is going to be directly impacted,” he said. “I’m going to give a dollar to these people, and that student is going to get a dollar.”

The couple also donated a modified motorcycle that Gary made at his Silver Wraith Choppers bike shop to be raffled at the College of Veterinary Medicine’s annual Gentle Doctor Benefit April 5. Tickets are $100 and can be ordered online at

This article was originally posted March 4 on

— Erik Potter