Lifelong Husky Couple Expands Scholarship by Giving Through Their Life Insurance

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Grace Merritt

3 min read

UConn has always been important to Tom and Eileen Marston.

Tom, an alum, has been a volunteer and a longtime basketball season ticket holder. Together, he and his wife, Eileen, started a scholarship to support students at the Avery Point campus.

“UConn’s been an important part of our lives for a long time,” Tom ’74 (CLAS) says.

The Marstons recently took their support of UConn a step further with a gift through Tom’s life insurance policy. They named the UConn Foundation as a beneficiary to receive half of the policy. Through this planned gift, they will be able to further support their scholarship fund, the Tom and Eileen Marston Scholarship.

“We really wanted to support the scholarship,” Tom explains. “This was a way to set a substantial amount aside to continue the scholarship in perpetuity.”

The scholarship has already provided financial support for 11 undergraduate students at the Avery Point campus since it was established in 2010. Now it will support many more students for years to come, leaving a generous legacy.

“Creating a scholarship has been very rewarding,” Tom says. “We’ve even met some of the recipients over the years.”

The current recipient, Benjamin LeBlanc ’25, a coastal studies major, says it has helped alleviate some of the pressure of paying for college.

“The scholarship has allowed me to focus more on my school assignments without worrying about whether I’ll be able to pay tuition,” LeBlanc says. “I’ve been able to do more on campus and focus on studying because I’ve been able to cut back on the number of hours I need to spend working.”

Tom Marston did not attend the Avery Point campus, but his father, Thomas R. Marston ’71 (ED), did. His father’s class was the first to graduate from Avery Point shortly after it opened in 1967. The Marstons decided to earmark their scholarship to support Avery Point students as a way to honor him and meet a need.

“When we first started looking at possible scholarships we could do, we found that while there were hundreds of these level scholarships at Storrs, there were only two at Avery Point,” Tom says.

Tom, who was raised in Clinton, majored in biology at UConn and went on to earn a master’s in environmental science from the University of New Haven. He spent most of his career at the Connecticut Water Co., rising through the ranks to become vice president of business development.

He tapped into his water company expertise when he served on the advisory board of the University’s Institute of Water Resources. He was also part of a team of water company employees who reached out to UConn to assist in the operation of their water supply system following an incident in 2005 when the University’s water withdrawals caused the Fenton River to run dry. The team worked with University officials to map out strategies and consider capital and ongoing maintenance needs to build a world-class water supply system.

Meanwhile, Eileen is not a UConn graduate but a major supporter through the couple’s scholarship. She graduated from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, majoring in history and English. After college, she held several administrative jobs, then devoted herself to volunteer work, raising service dogs primarily for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind program.

“Puppies are a lot of work, but it was really rewarding,” Eileen says. “It was something we did together.”

Now retired, the Marstons live in Leland, North Carolina, and have two adult children and two grandchildren. Though they’ve moved down south, they still find their way to a UConn basketball game or two in the region every year.

Jonathan at an event in Hartford CT
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