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The Estate of Donald and Emily Sheets, Legacy Award for Planned Giving

Photo by David Trozzo

Great teachers can make a difference in students’ lives. Extraordinary teachers can help make a difference in an entire community. Two such educators were the late Donald and Emily Sheets. 

Donald and Emily moved to the Admiral Heights neighborhood, where they resided for 40 years, because of Donald’s appointment as a chemistry professor of the U.S. Naval Academy. He taught there for more than 30 years. Emily dedicated her life’s work as an elementary school teacher for more than 25 years with local Annapolis schools. She was beloved by her students, and many of them would return to visit her regularly, even as adults. 

As devoted community members and lifelong academics, both Donald and Emily were naturally passionate about advancing education in Anne Arundel County. So, it’s no surprise that the Estate of Emily and Donald Sheets gifted $1.26 million towards Graduate Medical Education at Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center (LH AAMC). Donald and Emily wished not only to enhance educational opportunities for medical professionals at LH AAMC, but also to make certain that the Annapolis community continues to receive the same high-quality care close to home as the Sheets received. 

“Both Donald and Emily Sheets were Annapolitans who cherished sharing their time, talents, and treasures to their local community,” said nominators Jan Woods and Molly Fleenor of LH AAMC. “Their gift exemplifies the quintessential spirit and vision of legacy giving. Donald and Emily truly believed in the importance of supporting the people who make a difference, day in and day out, in their local community of Annapolis.” 

During his career as a U.S. Naval Academy professor, Donald observed the dedication of the Naval Academy men and women on a daily basis, so it seemed natural that he also developed a passion for supporting veterans. Accordingly, the couple decided to donate their home to Homes for Troops, a nonprofit organization that builds and donates specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured post 9/11 veterans to help them rebuild their lives. 

Because Donald and Emily didn’t have children, they planned to allocate their estate towards causes that had significant meaning to them, as well as to local organizations in their community. In order to achieve their financial and charitable goals, the couple lived a modest and frugal lifestyle and partnered with an investment company to maximize their savings to ensure that there was money left over from each monthly paycheck to contribute to their estate. 

“It was Donald’s and Emily’s wish to extend their legacy by supporting their beloved community through philanthropy,” said Estate Attorney Richard Ham, esq., who helped the Sheets with their estate planning, and added that the Sheets also made a substantial gift to the Hospice of the Chesapeake. “I can’t think of a more deserving couple to receive this gift posthumously. I am overwhelmed by their unselfishness.” 

During their lives, the Sheets taught their students many lessons, and now their legacy continues to communicate an important lesson as well as one of their greatest passions—giving back to the community. 

The late Donald and Emily Sheets were nominated by Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center.

The Legacy Award for Planned Giving recognizes a family or individual philanthropist who has made a significant contribution to one or more local nonprofits using a planned gift. A planned gift is any major gift, made in a lifetime or at death as part of a donor’s overall financial and/or estate planning. These include gifts of equity, life insurance, real estate, personal property, or cash. 

Go back to 2022 Awardees