Loan repaid in a big way

Funds: An Oklahoma man sets up a trust at the Baltimore-based scholarship agency that helped him complete his education by lending him $1,650 in 1975.

June 29, 2000|By J. Kimball C. Payne | J. Kimball C. Payne,SUN STAFF

In 1975, Jim Klein, then 23, left Baltimore for Oklahoma with a high school diploma, a small loan from the Central Scholarship Bureau and little else.

Klein came home this week in a beat-up Ford truck with 291,795 miles on it to give CSB $125,000 so that generations of young Marylanders will learn how "to fish."

"If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. But if you teach a man to fish, then he'll never starve," explained Klein, an airline maintenance technician with American Airlines.

Because Klein set up a charitable remainder trust in the name of CSB, officials say, his contribution will grow to "about $1 million" for the nonprofit that provides "last resort" loans to post-secondary students preparing to attend accredited undergraduate, graduate and vocational schools.

Klein graduated from Woodlawn Senior High School in 1970 and took courses at Catonsville Community College. Hearing about CSB from his mother in 1975, Klein applied and received $1,650 towards tuition at Spartan Institute of Technology in Tulsa, Okla.

"Without the loan, I wouldn't have had enough money to take the 18-month course straight through, and it's hard to take a break in education," Klein said.

After graduating from Spartan in 1977, Klein began working as an airline maintenance technician on single- and twin-engine small aircraft.

In 1986, he joined American and started repairing and maintaining larger turbine jet aircraft.

Klein, who says he is frugal and a "little more rugged than most," lives off a dirt road in two circular houses on 30 wooded acres east of Tulsa.

Klein built the houses in 1982 and is building a third, larger house that will include a greenhouse, a hangar, a kitchen, a bathroom and a room with a telescope.

In 1979, Klein finished repaying the loan and attached to the final payment a note that told CSB officials to expect a large donation.

"He's an extraordinary man," said CSB Executive Director Helen London. "We're so happy he remembered us after all those years."

Established in 1924, CSB provided educational opportunities for needy Jewish children and extended help to non-Jewish applicants in 1945. It is privately funded and receives no government assistance.

Since its founding, CSB has helped more than 6,000 students obtain higher education. Last year, CSB committed more than $420,000 in loans to its students.

The $125,000 trust that Klein set up will earn interest and cannot be taxed.

The funds will become available after his death.

"I wanted to make sure kids in the future had the same opportunities," Klein said. "They need the money more than I do."

To contact the Central Scholarship Bureau, call 410-415-5558.

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