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The Time Was Right to Take Out A Gift Annuity at Garrett-Evangelical

The Time Was Right to Take Out A Gift Annuity at Garrett-Evangelical

Joel Parrott (GTS 1965) had received information about gift annuities at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary for several years before he decided "the time was right" to look into it. So last spring, he contacted David Heetland, senior vice president for planned giving at Garrett-Evangelical, and talked to him about taking out an annuity on behalf of his wife, Karilyn.

"It got to the point where I had the money available, and I liked what I heard about the program," Parrott said.

"When you have money in a bank nowadays, you get about one tenth of one percent of interest on it," Parrott continued. "An annuity at Garrett-Evangelical has an extremely generous interest rate."

Taking out an annuity also allowed Parrott to make a gift that benefited the seminary. "I was pleased that Garrett-Evangelical could make immediate use of the money," he said.

As a life-long Methodist, who grew up in Wheaton, Illinois, Parrott learned early in his life about Garrett Biblical Institute, as it was known then. His father and mother would pack him and his two brothers in the car on Sundays and drive around the area. Sometimes, they found themselves in Evanston, where his mother had an aunt, and they would stop at Garrett Biblical Institute. "We would go to Howes Chapel and walk around the flower gardens," Parrott recalled. "It was a beautiful place just to wander around."

After high school, Parrott went to Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa, where he majored in biology and minored in French. He also met his wife-to-be, Karilyn Kirlin, who was a year behind him in school. They married in December 1961.

While she finished her senior year at Cornell College, Parrott completed a graduate fellowship at the State University of Iowa in Zoology. That's when Parrott felt a call to go to Garrett Theological Seminary. "I didn't entertain thoughts of being a minister," Parrott said. "I wanted to get a graduate degree in religion."

He and his wife drove from Mt. Vernon, Iowa to Evanston, Illinois, pulling a U-Haul, in the summer of 1962. They settled in the married-student apartments on Maple Ave., and Parrott found part-time work there helping the building manager. In the meantime, Karilyn found a teaching job at an elementary school in nearby Skokie.

That fall, Parrott began a joint program in religion with Garrett Theological Seminary and Northwestern University. He had to take six courses at Northwestern; the rest were through Garrett. "I was highly inspired by the teachers and the subjects that I studied," said Parrott, who majored in biblical studies.

After he graduated in 1965 with a M.A., Parrott explored the possibility of teaching at a small college, but realized he needed a PhD. He said he decided to "fall back on his undergraduate degree" and accepted a job at American Hospital Supply Corp. in Evanston. Soon after, his son, Tim, was born.

Three years later, he left American Hospital Supply and went to work for a former colleague who had started his own business, sterilizing products for a packaging company. The company failed, and Parrott soon joined Baxter Laboratories in Morton Grove, where he worked for three years. During that time, Parrott and his wife had their second child, Kristen. After that he went to work at Baxter's technology campus in Round Lake, Illinois and stayed for 13 years.

In 1983, he had an opportunity to move to Valencia, California to work for the Pharmaseal Division of American Hospital Supply Corp. Two years later, Baxter bought American Hospital Supply, and Parrott spent the rest of his 32-year career with Baxter, which included a move back to the Midwest. Parrott retired in 1997. Today, he and his wife live in Gurnee, Illinois.

Although he did not go into the ministry, he said that his Garrett education served him well. "I did a lot of writing at Garrett–a lot of essays and term papers–and during my 32-year career, I did a great deal of writing about my projects," he said. "I had the ability to help people who knew little about the projects understand and appreciate them. Thanks to Garrett, writing was one of my strengths."

Over the years, Parrott said, people often asked him how "a biology-major-kind-of-guy" ended up at Garrett Theological Seminary. He answered that he grew up in the church, and it meant a great deal to him to study religion. "It was the finest formal educational experience that I had," he said. "I was just in awe of the professors and the classes, and I was able to learn and think. It was foundational for me."

In addition to being a devoted Methodist, Parrott taught Sunday School for most of his life, starting with junior high school students, then moving to high school students, and finally teaching adults. "The Church has always been extremely meaningful to both Karilyn and me," he said.

If you would like more information on gift annuities, please contact Rev. Dr. David Heetland, senior vice president for planned giving at [email protected] or 847.866.3970.