Man with a Plan

Published on November 20, 2017

Through Thoughtful Estate Planning, Bauer Alumnus Provides For Family and Alma Mater

When John R. Nieser (BBA ’80), third from left, died unexpectedly in 2016, his wife Terri and their children Eric and Elise created a scholarship in his name at Bauer College for accounting and finance majors.

Terri Nieser makes her late husband, John R. Nieser (BBA ’80), sound like a pretty good catch.

A Bauer College-educated accountant who held vice-presidential and CFO positions at prestigious firms, John worked uncommonly hard and provided well for his family. He didn’t care much for golfing. Instead, he preferred to spend weekends working in the yard or assisting his wife with chores.

“He would help clean the house and vacuum,” Terri recalls, barely suppressing a giggle. “All my girlfriends were jealous.”

John was also thrifty — to a fault. He insisted on having his shoes resoled, and Terri had to tell him when he needed new slacks. So when John died unexpectedly of a heart attack in December 2016, at the age of 58, his wife didn’t have to worry that his finances were in order.

The couple had taken care to plan their estate carefully, update their will, and remember the institutions and individuals that mattered to them.

In John’s case, that was the University of Houston.

“I think that was most important to him,” Terri said in an interview. “I think he always took a lot of pride in the school and what it did for him and his career. He just really wanted to be able to remember them, and I’m really glad that he did.”

To say that John was a diehard UH sports fan may be an understatement.

He hoarded his Final Four programs, hung Cougar prints in his office and cherished jerseys signed by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler that Terri gave him for his 40th birthday.

“He felt like he got a great education there,” says Terri, who met her husband when they both worked in the audit department of Arthur Young (now Ernst & Young) in the 1980s.

Terri eventually left the firm to focus on raising the couple’s two children, Elise and Eric. John left Arthur Young in 1988 for a job as senior vice president, treasurer and CFO of Guardian Savings and Loan. He later worked as controller for GE Aero Energy and Sunrise Housing Ltd. When he retired in 2010, he was senior vice president, treasurer and CFO of Cornell Companies.

Though he had made a bequest to his alma mater in his will, he did not specify a college or program.

When Terri and her children talked about it, they decided a gift to Bauer College would be the most appropriate legacy. In May 2017, they established the John R. Nieser Scholarship at Bauer College for accounting and finance majors.

Those two majors “are near and dear to us,” Terri says.

Both she and her husband were accounting majors (though Terri studied at Texas Tech), while Elise, now with Frost Bank, majored in finance at Louisiana State University. (Eric now attends UH as a digital media major.)

In the wake of John’s sudden death, his family was naturally devastated. However, things could have been worse if John hadn’t left his finances in order.

“Without the estate planning already in place, it would have been an even bigger tragedy,” she says. “I think it’s critical. I have told all my friends: ‘If you have not updated your will and you are not current, you’ve got to do it.’ You never know.”

But in the case of John R. Nieser, who was diligent about remembering his family and alma mater, thoughtful planning was the saving grace.

By Wendell Brock

Posted Under: Recognition

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