Jump the navigation

For Marshal McReal ’84, the Journey Is the Reward

By By Jodie Nicotra

Marshal McRealInscribed jewelry has long served to help people keep important messages close at hand—like the fabled king whose ring reminded him that “This too shall pass.” 

For Whitman College alum Marshal McReal ’84, it’s a leather and silver bracelet engraved with the quote “The journey is the reward.” 

It’s a message that has served McReal well, from his 300-mile trek along the Camino de Santiago in Spain to his everyday work as a principal of Garde Capital, a wealth management firm he co-founded in 2009. Now, he hopes that part of his legacy is to give Whitman students the opportunity to absorb this mantra as well. 

McReal recently established a $1 million estate gift to help support the journeys of talented students who may otherwise lack the means to attend and thrive at Whitman. 

An Unplanned Path to Prosperity

McReal’s own career journey has been interesting, and in many ways unexpected. The summer after he graduated from Whitman with a degree in English and a minor in political science, he moved to Seattle to study Mandarin at the University of Washington. By chance, he landed a summer job at the brokerage firm Drexel Burnham Lambert. He fondly remembers that position as not the lowest level, but more like the assistant to the lowest role in the organization.

While McReal might have landed that lowly opportunity through luck, his work there—especially the communication skills he’d learned at Whitman—impressed the right people. He was hired into the firm’s training program in New York City, and his 35-plus year career in investment management began. In 1990, he joined Salomon Smith Barney, where he worked till 2006, taking leave along the way to pursue an M.B.A. in the U.K. at the University of Cambridge.

After a few years with Goldman Sachs, McReal opted to strike out on his own. In 2009, in the midst of the financial crisis, he co-founded Garde Capital with three other partners. Now with approximately $1.6 billion in assets under management, Garde has been named one of the top 100 Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisors in the U.S. by CNBC and one of the top 300 Registered Investment Advisors in the U.S. by the Financial Times of London. 

Paying It Forward With Gratitude

It was the unexpected death of his older brother in January 2021, and the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, that prompted McReal to revisit his own estate plan. 

Eighty percent ($800,000) of McReal’s $1 million estate gift to Whitman will provide four-year stipends for students with demonstrated financial need. The remainder will support students during the summer breaks so that they can afford to take unpaid internships—and gain valuable hands-on experience.  

“Many students who can attend private colleges like Whitman have access to opportunities and networking through family connections, and some don’t need to earn income during the summers,” McReal says. “This gift is meant to help students who grew up without those advantages.”

McReal attributes the origin of his interest in helping financially disadvantaged students to his father, whom his gift is meant to honor. Before his career as a school principal in Oregon, his father had attended college on a scholarship. Helping financially disadvantaged students find similar opportunities became one of his values and philanthropic interests, and McReal hopes to continue his dad’s legacy. 

McReal also feels strongly about education’s role in promoting diversity, equity and inclusion. 

“I believe education can be the great equalizer,” he says. “Giving talented young people an excellent educational experience at Whitman will enhance their opportunity to compete in the marketplace. Creating access for traditionally underserved populations helps level the playing field.” 

McReal’s gift to the college also reflects his strong belief in Whitman and institutions like it. He’s grateful for what attending a small liberal arts college provided him, including small class sizes and access to professors. He values Whitman’s focus on thinking critically about the complexities of problems, communicating effectively and learning to learn. 

Indeed, he has been able to directly apply what he learned at Whitman, and later at Cambridge, to his work at Garde Capital, he says. 

“A core competency for individuals and institutions these days must be learning how to learn, as well as identifying and figuring out how to adapt to change, the pace of which is accelerating.”  

Even more important, as his bracelet reminds him—and as he’d like to remind Whitman students in turn—McReal has learned that focusing only on outcomes inevitably misses the point. He hopes that while they’re in college, current Whitties will think not just about the end goals of career and livelihood, but about immersing themselves and enjoying the rewards of their own college journeys. 

“Enjoying the experience of getting there is far more valuable.” 

3 Things to Know About Planned Giving

38% of all gifts to Whitman College’s endowment are from legacy giving and other deferred gifts. Legacy giving refers to donors who plan gifts from their estate after their death. These gifts provide vital and perpetual financial support for the college.

37%—that’s the tax your heirs may have to pay on your retirement account. When you add a nonprofit, like Whitman, as a beneficiary on your retirement account, that’s an impactful and tax-free way to give a legacy gift.

682 alumni, parents and friends of the college are currently members of our Dorsey Baker Legacy Society, supporting Whitman’s long tradition of legacy giving. 

Have questions about planned giving? 

Whitman’s Office of Gift Planning is here to help. You can start the conversation by contacting Jamie Kennedy ’96 at 509-527-5989 and kennedjj@whitman.edu.

Published on Nov 16, 2021
beaker duck hiker icon-a-to-z icon-arrow-circle-down icon-arrow-circle-up icon-arrow-down icon-arrow-left icon-arrow-right icon-arrow-up icon-calendar-no-circle icon-calendar icon-camera icon-clock icon-cv icon-dot icon-down-triangle icon-email-circle icon-email icon-external-link icon-facebook icon-flickr icon-generic-blog icon-google-plus icon-home icon-instagram icon-library icon-link-circle icon-link-inverted icon-linkedin icon-lock icon-magazine icon-map-pin icon-map2 icon-menu-hamburger icon-menu-mobile-a icon-menu-mobile-b icon-menu-x icon-mywhitman-cog icon-news icon-phone icon-pinterest icon-play icon-quote icon-search-a icon-search-b icon-search-mobile-a icon-search-mobile-b icon-share icon-snail-mail icon-tumblr icon-twitter icon-vimeo icon-youtube logo-whitman-nc-flat logo-whitman-nc-stacked logo-whitman-no-clocktower slider-category-arrow-2px slider-category-arrow-no-line slider-category-arrow-solid slider-category-arrow slider-category-line-2px slider-category-line-solid slider-category-line tc_icon-filmstrip-fl tc_icon-filmstrip-ln tc_icon-play-fl-closed tc_icon-play-fl-open tc_icon-play-ln-closed tc_icon-play-ln-open wifi