Your Impact

Given Their History, This Gift was a Natural

They met at a museum. They married at a museum. Naming a museum in their will “is an expression of who we are.”

By Liesl O'Dell (BSJ ’92) UF Advancement Published January 2, 2018

For 60-somethings Dan and Kathleen Hayman, finding Gainesville and the Florida Museum of Natural History was pure coincidence.

When Dan, a high school history and social studies teacher, and Kathleen, a communicator for nonprofits, were ready to retire from their jobs in Chicago, they wanted to move south. Problem was they loved volunteering with the city’s Field Museum of Natural History. Dan was a founding member of the Field’s Friends of the Library and Kathleen was on the Anthropology Alliance. They met at the museum and even married in the museum’s library, amid artifacts and original manuscripts, such as Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species and John James Audubon’s Birds of America.

Kathleen discovered a potentially great match for their retirement dreams in AARP the Magazine. The article described a city in Florida “where nature meets culture.” During their next snowbird trip the couple made a point to stop in Gainesville, and liked it so much they made it their new home.

When Dan and I go extinct, we hope our bequest will play a small part to help ensure that kids and adults will care about life on the fragile planet Earth as much as we do.
Kathleen Hayman

Both are now UF enthusiasts — and donors. Dan volunteers at the Florida Museum of Natural History, where he manages the fossil cart and catalogs specimens for botany and malacology researchers. Kathleen enjoys spending time at both the natural history museum and UF’s Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art.

The couple believes so fervently in the Florida Museum of Natural History’s mission they named it in their will. In addition, a provision states that Dan’s rare books and manuscripts – works of scholarship from a variety of disciplines — will be given to the university’s Smathers Libraries. Kathleen’s West African books and artifacts – mostly gathered from her time in the Peace Corps in Ivory Coast — will go to the Harn Museum.

The Haymans, who never miss an opportunity to laugh, joke about “croaking” amid the frog exhibit. But they say they feel good knowing future generations will benefit from their passions.

“Years from now, I hope our gift inspires people to devote themselves at some level in the preservation of our precious Earth,” Kathleen says. “Our gift is an expression of who we are. We’re living out our values and our interests.”

Dan’s Favorites at the Museum of Natural History

“Our UF natural history museum has such a smorgasbord of 40 million delicacies that it is impossible to choose favorites,” says Dan. “My attempt is based on my firsthand experiences at the fossil cart every Friday morning.”
Mammoth. Visitors are wowed when they look at it. The creature has so many fascinating aspects. It is important that they view the bones from the right perspective in order to feel its massiveness. Fortunately, the real lower jaw is now on display in our current exhibit.

Megalodon Shark. A crowd pleaser, especially with the children. “Jaws” still has an impact on people.

Bronze Miniature Sculpture of Fierce-Looking Bird. Another favorite. Many young people call it a dodo bird. However, it is the terror bird that has a model in the Fossil Hall. It was 7 feet tall and ran up to 70 miles per hour.

Horses, Camels, Rhinos. Visitors are amazed to learn these and many others originated in our Western hemisphere. It is a pleasure to get people enthused about science during their brief encounters with our remarkable facility that is so worthy of our support.

Kathleen’s Favorite Specimens

Ivory-billed Woodpecker. I love the pileated woodpeckers in our garden and woods. Recently in Santa Fe, N.M, I bought a whimsical “blue-backed” woodpecker made by the artist from recycled objects.

Whooping Crane. On a magical afternoon at La Chua Trail, we saw one lone white whooping crane among a sea of sandhill cranes. A hopeful sign of their continued existence.

Seminole Artist’s Patchwork Skirt. Patchwork has huge appeal for me aesthetically, and I value supporting women’s art and craft. Another artwork from Santa Fe is a piece of pottery that I treasure not just for its beauty, but for the fact that the artist was a woman in her 50s.

Duck Effigy Bowl. Dan and I have a special duck affinity, beginning with the beautiful Audubon wood ducks that were our wedding gift from the Field Museum of Chicago when we got married there in the museum’s library in 2002.

Tropical Africa Butterfly Collection. We planted a butterfly garden at our new Gainesville house. My house in Ivory Coast, West Africa, when I was a Peace Corps volunteer was inundated with a butterfly swarm, much to my surprise and wonder.

By Liesl O'Dell (BSJ ’92) UF Advancement Published January 2, 2018

Your will is a powerful way to make a meaningful investment in UF.

Whether honoring a loved one or supporting a UF program, it’s a simple way to create a lasting legacy. For information, contact the Office of Gift Planning at 352-392-5512 or