Bill (BA '69, M.Ed. '70) and Kathy (BA '69) Kain

Deep DU Roots Inspire Alumni to Pay It Forward

Kathy and Bill Kain

There are two threads interwoven into the fabric of alumni Bill (BA ’69, M.Ed. ’70) and Kathy (BA ’69) Kain’s lives: the University of Denver and serving the public good.

The Grand Junction couple, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2018, first met as freshmen at DU.

“There was a dance on Friday of the very first week of classes. I walked into the dance and there was Kathy. We danced, chatted for a few minutes, and I got her name and number. I wrote a long letter to my mother that weekend, going on for pages about my classes and the school. At the end, I wrote, ‘And by the way, there’s this girl Kathy. You’ll be hearing more about her’,” said Bill. “My mother kept that letter, and we now have it as a sort of treasured memento.”

Kathy’s connection to DU began long before she met Bill as an undergrad.

“I’ve always said that I’ve been going to DU since I was five years old,” she said.

Kathy’s mother, LaVeta Bermudez, worked at DU for over 35 years. Kathy’s earliest memory of DU is living with her parents in a Quonset hut, temporary housing the University erected to accommodate the influx of students who matriculated after World War II.

She attended a DU summer camp created for students’ and employees’ children from ages five to 12, even though campers weren’t supposed to start until they were six. “My mother talked to someone and convinced them to let me in early,” said Kathy.

While Bill wasn’t introduced to DU until high school, when he attended a program called “Preview DU,” both Bill and Kathy say that DU was a formative part of their lives.

“My education at DU was outstanding,” said Bill. He credits DU for preparing him for law school and his career as an attorney.

“I am who I am because of how the professors and students shaped my intellect and character,” said Kathy, who spent over 30 years serving in public education.

Recently, Bill and Kathy created a trust and named DU as a beneficiary. The University’s Momentum Scholarship Challenge matched 25 percent of their bequest’s value to start a scholarship in their names this year. The scholarship is for undergraduate students with financial need who want to use their education for the public good.

Students like a brilliant high school classmate of Bill’s, who had to turn down Radcliffe College because her family couldn’t afford it. Bill remembers standing in line at his high school graduation and asking his classmate when she was leaving for Cambridge. The sadness and disappointment in her voice when she told him she wasn’t has stuck with Bill after all of these years.

“I’ve thought about that many times since graduating from high school,” said Bill. “I believe that no student should be denied a college education because his or her family cannot afford it.”

Students like Kathy, who was able to attend DU because of the 90 percent tuition waiver she received due to her mother’s tenure with the University. She said, ““We want to give back what was given to us. DU is part of the fabric of our lives. That’s one reason we’ve decided to bequeath our life’s earnings to DU; we hope that a student who has need like I did can go to DU and become a better person.”

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