$260,000 Gift from Groundskeeper Estate Will Benefit Students at Stockbridge School at UMass Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. - A gift of $260,000 from the estate of a former New Jersey groundskeeper and his wife will establish a scholarship fund for students studying turfgrass management at the two-year Stockbridge School at the University of Massachusetts.

Charles Osterman was the chief groundskeeper and superintendent of an estate in Demarest, N.J., owned by the late state Sen. Edmund Wakelee. As a bonus for his work, he was occasionally given blue-chip stock in oil, communication, and utilities companies. He and his wife, Frances. eventually retired to Florida, where Charles died in 1985 at the age of 72. Following his death, Osterman’s nephew, Robert W. Osterman, took on the management of his aunt’s portfolio, which grew considerably until Mrs. Osterman’s death in 1997. Before her death, Frances Osterman indicated that it was her and her husband’s wish that one-third of their estate be given to educational institutions with courses in soils, grasses, and landscape technology, equipment, and management.

Robert Osterman carried out their wish and beginning next year, the Charles E. and Frances M. Osterman Scholarships will be awarded annually to six students at Stockbridge School. More than $10,000 in scholarship aid will be awarded each year to students majoring in turfgrass management or a related curriculum.

Osterman’s ties with Stockbridge were established when he attended the Winter Turfgrass School in 1968. Like his uncle, he too spent much of his professional life in the turfgrass field, as golf course superintendent and general manager of the Connecticut Golf Club. He served as board member of the Connecticut Association of Golf Course Superintendents and went on to serve on the board and as elected president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. Two of Robert’s sons also attended Stockbridge: Kurt received an associate degree from Stockbridge in 1993, and Keith attended the winter turfgrass program in 1994.

"We’re honored that Robert Osterman has chosen the Stockbridge School to receive this bequest from his aunt and uncle," says Nancy Garrabrants, Stockbridge director and UMass alumna. Robert Helgesen, dean of the College of Food and Natural Resources, notes that Osterman’s choice of Stockbridge to receive the gift "reflects the quality of the Stockbridge program and accords it tremendous recognition."

Robert Osterman made the gift on behalf of his aunt and uncle to Campaign UMass, the campus’s comprehensive five-year campaign to raise $125 million, engage advocates, and enhance the University’s image across the state and the nation. The two other institutions also selected by him to receive gifts of $260,000 from his aunt and uncle’s estate are: the agronomy program at Michigan State University, and Lake City Community College of Florida.