Rick Shale’s Legacy Is His Estate Plan

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Rick Shale, primarily known as a professor in the English department at Youngstown State University, led a modest lifestyle that belied the estate of more than $6 million that he left upon his death in 2022, at age 75.

In October, the Community Foundation announced that just over $3.7 million of that estate would be used to establish the Rick Shale Fund, which will begin making grants in the first quarter of 2024.  

“He didn’t have any close relatives to leave his assets to. So his desire was to support the things that he loved throughout his lifetime,” says nominator Scott Schulick, senior vice president/investments at Stifel Financial Corp. and Shale’s investment adviser.

Shale will be honored with the Legacy Award at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Mahoning-Shenango Chapter’s National Philanthropy Day Awards event.

Shale, who wrote or co-wrote books on subjects including Mill Creek Park and Idora Park, taught at YSU for decades before retiring in 2011. The only child of his parents, the late Don and Virginia Shale, Rick Shale would have inherited whatever wealth they had, Schulick says.

In addition to being a “good saver” and living a “modest lifestyle,” Shale became a “student of the markets” and focused on investing in the long term, Schulick says. He put the same kind of dedication into overseeing his many personal interests, which included YSU, The Butler Institute of American Art, Mahoning Valley Historical Society and genealogy.

“He was an extraordinary man,” reflects Paul McFadden, executive director of the YSU Foundation, who also nominated Shale. “His largesse is exemplary of his humble lifestyle. He just wanted to help the community.”

Administered by the Community Foundation, the Rick Shale Fund will provide grants focusing on five areas: local history, the arts, parks, education and social services.  Shale’s estate also provided funds for three local organizations: YSU Foundation, The Butler Institute of American Art and Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

Schulick, who serves on the YSU Foundation board, recalls he and McFadden sitting down with Shale years ago when he first expressed interest in doing a gift plan.

“He was very specific,” he says. “He didn’t just want to create a scholarship fund. He wanted to do something that would support things on campus.”

Shale similarly worked with the Community Foundation to develop a structure “to support organizations he supported during his lifetime, such as Stambaugh Auditorium and Mill Creek Park.  

His other sponsorships include YSU’s theater department, WYSU-FM and the annual English Festival. “He left a plan to perpetuate his annual giving to those organizations,” McFadden says.

Adds Schulick, “This is a great example, maybe one of the best examples, of a planned gift.”

Pictured at top: Rick Shale lights the candles at a 2010 honorary society induction. Photo courtesy Phi Kappa Phi.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.