Much of what I have accomplished in life is due to great teachers. I am not alone. Each of us has a story about how a teacher greatly influenced our lives. I enjoy hearing these stories as much as I do sharing them.
The latest story to cross my desk is that of Grace Scipio, an elementary school for 39 years. I can only imagine what her students would say about her great career.
In retirement, Mrs. Scipio offered good cheer to her fellow retirees for another 30 years. She enjoyed volunteering through the Retired Teachers Association of Chicago until shortly before her passing in 2019. She was 94.
Today, thousands of others will benefit from her generosity through her donation of $250,000 to her alma mater, Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mrs. Scipio’s story crossed my desk because her donation did not get to the historically black college for women. A savings account languished after her death and only recently was given to the state treasurer’s office as unclaimed property. We were fortunate to fulfill Mrs. Scipio’s wishes and deliver the money to Spelman.
In Illinois, returning unclaimed property is the responsibility of the state treasurer’s office. Often referred to as I-Cash, it is one of the state’s oldest consumer protection initiatives. Examples of unclaimed property include forgotten bank accounts, unpaid life insurance benefits, and unused rebate cards. We are legally required to return the money no matter how long it takes.
Since taking office in 2015, we have returned a record-shattering $1.3 Billion worth of unclaimed property. One-in-four individuals who search our website find something that belongs to them.
Mrs. Scipio was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 20, 1925. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College and her master’s degree from the University of Chicago.
Scipio began her teaching career in 1948 at Doolittle Elementary in Chicago. She also served at Burke Elementary and Tanner Elementary, both in Chicago. She retired in 1987. She was married to Wilber Scipio Sr., and they had a son, Wilber Scipio, Jr. Both proceeded her in death.
This is not a sad story. In fact, just the opposite. It is a story of a young lady who smashed barriers and worked hard to achieve a college education. It is a story of a young woman who had a family and enjoyed a fulfilling career teaching our precious children. It is a tale of retiring with dignity and volunteering to help others. Finally, it is inspiring that through it all, she was able to save money in the hopes that it would help others achieve their own dreams.
I am very grateful for the small role we played in fulfilling her final wishes. For the Mrs. Scipios and teachers everywhere, thank you for all that you do.
Michael W. Frerichs
Illinois State Treasurer