If you accept the definition of philanthropy as “love of humanity,” then there may be no truer philanthropist than Margaret Ross Thrailkill. She was the epitome of community involvement and engagement, and the Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation is just one of the beneficiaries of her unstinting and unassuming generosity.
Born and raised in Spirit Lake, Idaho, Margaret possessed an adventurer’s spirit and felt blessed to have the encouragement and financial support from her family that allowed her to not only graduate from Whitman College, but also to complete a Master’s Degree at NYU. She continued to travel throughout her lifetime and circumnavigated the globe several times over! Margaret never outgrew her love of learning and passion for education, and after business and family brought her back to the northwest, she was determined to give others the same chance at an education that she had.
Margaret’s involvement with Spokane Community College started after bringing a Spirit Lake student to campus to help him enroll. By the time they had completed his paperwork, Margaret had also been offered a teaching position in the business department! She continued as a faculty member at SCC until 1986, and even then, only retired because of the state-mandated retirement age. Her love of students and desire to help them obtain an education spilled into every aspect of her life, where she consistently (and insistently!) encouraged those around her to support the CCS Foundation. Her husband was one of her first converts and used the proceeds of his life insurance policy to establish a permanent endowment fund with the Foundation. This endowment continues to fund scholarships for business students and has grown substantially through Margaret’s ongoing generosity, including several legacy gifts.
Margaret’s lifetime of service and generosity helped ensure the future financial success not just of the Foundation, but of organizations throughout the region. In addition, her family has continued her legacy of giving and continues to contribute to her endowment to fund current and future scholarships. By creating permanent sources of funding for the Foundation, as well as instilling a tradition of giving in her family, Margaret contributed to the ongoing growth and success of the Foundation and the colleges. While she was truly one of a kind, her lifetime of service and giving remains as an example to us all, and her legacy will continue to touch the lives of students long into the future.