As the president of a successful manufacturing business, Jonathan Harris ’82 has always respected innovative thinking. So when he and wife Bianca learned about St. Andrew’s unique life insurance program, it struck them as a creative way of giving back to the School that has played a significant role in their family for many years.
The Harrises have three sons. Joshua ’09 and Alex ’11 are now university graduates, while Oliver ’17 is in grade 11. Young Oliver might seem an unlikely candidate for a life insurance policy; however, his youth and health are actually real advantages, in that they radically lower the cost of premiums.
It’s a charitable giving situation that has translated to immediate tax benefits for the Harrises, while they continue to build equity in the policy. “It allows you, with donations that are not very significant in themselves, to one day really provide a lasting legacy to the School,” says Bianca.
The family has directed the proceeds from this policy to the Bursary and Scholarship program, which will ultimately enrich SAC’s endowment. “There are a lot of kids who would make great St. Andrew’s students,” says Jonathan, “but who could never dream of coming. If we can help to give some of them the chance to do that, it would be wonderful.”
The Harris family set up their plan with Oliver’s full participation. “He sat in on the meetings, asked questions, and learned how life insurance works. He felt proud to know that one day he would leave a lasting legacy to St. Andrew’s College,” said Bianca.
Absorbing life skills is, of course, essential to a St. Andrew’s education, alongside academics and a vast array of co-curricular activities. This breadth, more than anything, explains why families such as the Harrises are so interested in giving back. “The School really supports our boys to become well-rounded citizens,” says Jonathan. “It’s the complete package.”
He cites St. Andrew’s global reach as one of its strongest aspects: “Here, you’ve got opportunities to travel and see the world—whether it’s through historical trips or meeting classmates from 31 countries.” Jonathan now travels extensively for work; he has encountered Andreans in places as far afield as Hong Kong and Athens, Georgia, where his company has apparel-manufacturing plants. “Even when you’re a long way from home,” he says, “you’ve got that instant connection.”
In fact, the Harris ties to St. Andrew’s are so extensive that the School might almost be considered a family member itself. Jonathan’s father Peter was SAC Board Chairman from 1979 to 1996, while Bianca’s brother, Oliver Herbst ’88, is also an Old Boy. Fittingly, the couple (who met while students at the University of Toronto) were married in St. Andrew’s Memorial Chapel. Bianca chaired the Red & White Gala last year, and currently serves as Vice-President of the Parents Guild.
It’s an illustrious story that promises to continue for many years to come. Life insurance is a long-term investment, where benefits accrue toward a large payout in the future. Which, when you think of it, is a perfect metaphor for the Harris family’s happy Andrean experience.
Bianca and Jonathan Harris '82