Late Indiana Elementary Schoolteacher Leaves $1.5M to Alma Mater

Alice R. Dentler, a 1953 Manchester University graduate, left the gift because her time at the university was "the best years of her life."
portrait of Evan Castillo
Evan Castillo
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Evan Castillo is an associate writer on BestColleges News and wrote for the Daily Tar Heel during his time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He's covered topics ranging from climate change to general higher education news, and he is...
Updated on July 17, 2023
Edited by
portrait of Darlene Earnest
Darlene Earnest
Read Full Bio

Editor & Writer

Darlene Earnest is a copy editor for BestColleges. She has had an extensive editing career at several news organizations, including The Virginian-Pilot and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She also has completed programs for editors offered by the D...
Learn more about our editorial process
Courtesy of Elkhart County Historical Museum
  • Alice R. Dentler, a retired elementary schoolteacher who died Jan. 1, left $1.5 million to Manchester University in Indiana.
  • A close friend described her as an "old-school" teacher who helped kids pay fees their families could not afford.
  • She worked as a schoolteacher in Elkhart County, Indiana, for at least 30 years.

Manchester University (MU) received an unrestricted donation of $1.5 million from a recently deceased elementary schoolteacher.

MU announced Alice R. Dentler, who died Jan. 1 at age 95, left the gift to her alma mater because her time at the Indiana university was "the best years of her life."

"Receiving an unexpected and unrestricted realized bequest is always an exciting day in the office. We are overwhelmed with gratitude," Melanie Harmon, MU vice president for advancement, said in the university's announcement.

According to the university, Dentler graduated with a bachelor's in elementary education in 1953 and worked as a schoolteacher for at least 30 years in Elkhart County, Indiana, until she retired in 1985. She more than fulfilled a prediction by her high school class that she would be teaching first grade within 10 years of graduation.

A friend described her as an "old-school" teacher who worked with children with life struggles, something Dentler understood since she grew up poor, according to MU. Her friend said she helped pay some students' activity fees when they could not.

"Alice Dentler was a hero, a quiet hero," said Harmon. "She was a regular contributor to Manchester over the years, but she never let on that she planned such a large bequest."

"Manchester graduates make connections for life and work to make the world a better place," MU President Stacy Young said in the announcement. "Alice Dentler's legacy will live on in generations to come. I wish we could have thanked her in person."

Dentler is the most recent schoolteacher to make a big posthumous donation to their alma mater. Earlier this year, another recently deceased schoolteacher Carol Mathews LeBeau, who graduated from William Paterson University in New Jersey, donated $1 million from her estate to fund scholarships for future teachers of students with disabilities.

Alice Dentler's class photo in Manchester's yearbook.
Alice Dentler's class photo in Manchester's yearbook.
Courtesy of Manchester University