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Fresno State Alums Expand Their Giving with $7M Planned Gift

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Fresno State benefactors Gary and Marlene Peacock (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)
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Fresno State News

Across the arc of their lifetime, Gary and Marlene Peacock’s time in Fresno was relatively brief. Both were born and raised in other places, and they left shortly after graduating from Fresno State to begin their respective careers in the Bay Area’s technology industry.

“We wanted to make an investment in these students. We believe that it’s important that Fresno State continue to support the agricultural industry in the San Joaquin Valley.” — Gary Peacock

But their time as Fresno State students holds great meaning and memory in their life story — so much so that they want to give back to the campus where their romance began and pay tribute to Marlene’s father in the process.

“That is the seed of our origin,” Gary Peacock said. “It’s where I met my wife. It’s where we got our college degrees. It provided a platform for us to be successful in the corporate world. And so we decided we wanted to make a significant difference.”

The Peacocks, married 45 years, met during their time as students at Fresno State in the 1970s — Marlene was a health science major, Gary majored in social sciences. They married in 1977 just days after they both graduated with their bachelor’s degrees.

Funded Jordan College Scholarship

Their first gift to Fresno State in December 2021 was to establish a scholarship that provides support to students majoring in plant science or animal science in the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

Meeting the students who have been the recipients of their scholarships had a huge impact on the two of them. After seeing firsthand what their generosity provided for, the Peacocks wanted to do even more.

The Peacocks recently made a $7 million commitment through their estate to fund additional scholarships from their endowment. This planned gift serves as a tribute to Marlene’s father, Robert Krahenbuhl, who spent most of his career in the agribusiness industry.

Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval said the Peacocks’ planned gift is a meaningful legacy:

“Their gift is based on a perpetual tribute to memory because it honors Robert Krahenbuhl, Marlene’s father, and it harks back to their time here at Fresno State and how Fresno State forged an identity of the trailblazing professionals they became after graduating. And their life-changing gift is also based on hope because it secures the future for so many talented Fresno State students. They’re invested and admirable donors who want to give the best of themselves to our students and to the region.”

Marlene was born in Madera, but considers Red Bluff, a small rural agricultural town in Northern California, her hometown. Gary was born in Queens, New York, and moved around growing up, a self-described “military brat.” His family ended up in Ridgecrest near Barstow, where he attended high school and later came to Fresno State.

The couple now lives in Park City, Utah, with a second home in Portland, Oregon.

Degree Made The Difference

While Marlene didn’t end up pursuing the field she studied as an undergraduate, she still credits her Fresno State degree with opening professional doors for her.

“It had nothing to do with health science, absolutely nothing to do with it,” she said. “But they required a college degree and that started me on my path. I was in manufacturing from Day 1, and I stayed in manufacturing my entire career. But without that degree from Fresno State, I would not have gotten that job.”

College life at Fresno State helped them both transition from late teens into early adulthood, Gary Peacock said, setting the stage for their future professional success — Gary with KLA Corporation and Marlene with Cisco Systems, Inc.

“I basically acquired independence at Fresno State and the environment there. We mostly spent our time on campus with our friends and the faculty and the facilities there. We spent a lot of time in the library and the student union going to all the events. And so I think it was helping us mature as individuals and then learning some life skills, learning critical thinking skills.”

They want to share that experience with future generations of Fresno State students through the scholarships they are funding.

“We wanted to make an investment in these students. We believe that it’s important that Fresno State continue to support the agricultural industry in the San Joaquin Valley,” Gary Peacock said. ”And it’s best to have highly educated people coming out of Fresno State with a degree that can help the industry.”

Ayden Garcia, who is working toward a bachelor’s in agricultural education, is one of those students. After an anticipated graduation in 2023, Garcia plans to continue his studies, working toward a credential as an agricultural specialist the following year.

“The Peacock scholarship will help me be the best agriculture teacher I can be,” Garcia said. “This support has allowed me to dedicate my time to my academic studies and pursue student leadership opportunities as I work toward obtaining my agricultural teaching credential.”