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Celebrating Life, Love and Legacy Through Planned Giving

NC State made a powerful and lasting impact on Anne Porter-Sasser and Neal Sasser during their early years. Now, through several special estate gifts, this Wolfpack couple is planning to return the favor.

Anne Porter-Sasser and Neal Sasser

Anne Porter-Sasser and Neal Sasser practically grew up at NC State, thanks to their respective fathers being on the university’s faculty. They both have fond memories of visiting campus in their youth and seeing higher education up close and behind the scenes. Anne and Neal were also childhood friends, with their families attending the same church.

Their academic and professional careers took them away from NC State and each other for five decades, but Anne and Neal eventually reconnected — and were married in 2018. Now, they are living each day of their new life together to the fullest, including making return trips to campus.

They are also making big plans for the future — plans that include the university in several special ways.

Neal and Anne have greatly encouraged one another in their planned giving — not just in the amounts they have chosen to bequeath, but in the areas they will support as well. They also encourage anyone who is considering making a planned gift to NC State to take a moment and really consider how they want to help the Pack succeed.

“Your personal philanthropy is where your passions lie and what’s important to you and what has meaning in your life,” Porter-Sasser said. “Who do you want to honor, or how do you want to be remembered?

“That’s my thing, really: How do you leave a legacy?” she added. “It’s easy, and practically everyone can do it. You don’t need millions of dollars to leave a legacy.”

Worms and Wolves

Neal Sasser has chosen to make an estate gift that will help celebrate the legacy and accomplishments of his late father, Joseph Neal Sasser Sr. The elder Sasser was an internationally renowned professor, plant pathologist and nematologist — someone who studies the various parasitic worms known as nematodes — in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

Sasser Sr. was also a two-time Wolfpack alumnus, graduating with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from CALS, as well as a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, before returning to teach at NC State in 1953. Later in his career, he was awarded the prestigious Oliver Max Gardner Award, the University of North Carolina System’s highest faculty honor.

Of particular note in Sasser Sr.’s career was his establishment of the International Meloidogyne Project in the early 1960s. Six offices were set up in different countries to further study root-knot nematodes and their impact on crops, as well as to remove them from plants before the plants were shipped internationally. Some of Sasser Sr.’s former graduate students became the directors of these offices, implementing his teachings all around the globe.

“I’ve always thought of it as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of plants — identifying and treating nematodes in various regions of the world,” Neal Sasser said. “Dad contributed significantly to the security of food crops and brought that prestige to NC State.”

Sasser Sr. retired from NC State in 1989 and died in 2005. In 2006, his family established the Joseph N. Sasser Biennial Plant Pathology Lectureship Endowment in his memory. Friends, colleagues and even corporate partners who benefited from his research joined them in funding this new lectureship, which has been successfully held twice since 2018.

Neal Sasser has also contributed to the fund over the years via annual giving. A charitable bequest through his last will and testament will greatly further its work by providing a fixed, minimum amount from his estate — stable support that may even lead to the lectureship becoming an annual event rather than a biennial one someday.

“Our family was proud to remember Dad, and my estate gift will enhance the endowment that continues to benefit future generations,” Sasser said. “I can’t think of any better way to honor my father’s legacy.”

Public Broadcasting and Public Plants

Anne Porter-Sasser’s father, Jack Porter, also made a tremendous impact on NC State and the world via his time on campus. He began working at NC State in the mid-1950s as a speech and English professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. In the late ’60s, Porter transitioned to the team that produced what ultimately became today’s PBS North Carolina and served as the director of educational television on the Raleigh campus.

“He was one of the pioneers of public television at NC State,” Porter-Sasser said of her father. “I fondly remember him showing us a demo tape of an innovative new educational children’s program — Sesame Street. Iconic today!”

Porter-Sasser came to work for NC State in 2000 with the CALS Advancement team and eventually became the director of development for the JC Raulston Arboretum. One of her personal gifts to the arboretum funded a stone bench in the Japanese Garden with a bronze plaque dedicated to her father’s memory.

Porter-Sasser has also chosen to include NC State in her estate plans with gifts from her last will and testament and a retirement plan in support of the arboretum. The Anne Marie Porter Travel for JCRA Staff fund will help cover travel expenses for arboretum staff members. This will enable them to see more of the world as they accompany arboretum supporters on university-sponsored trips as well as collect plants to share with arboretum members and visitors.

“I love the arboretum and the people who support it,” Porter-Sasser said. “I had the opportunity to attend excellent professional conferences and visit inspiring places through my work with the arboretum and CALS. When I decided to retire, I started thinking, ‘What do I want to do? What is important to me?’

“Money can always be tight when you’re looking at budgets for faculty and staff to travel,” she added. “So, I thought, ‘Why not support that?’ I give to this travel fund annually, and my planned gift will ensure my legacy into perpetuity.”

For more information on including NC State in your estate plans, please visit or contact the Office of Gift Planning at 919-515-5106 or

This post was originally published in Giving News.