Benefactor Stories > Unique Car Sold for Cancer Research

Unique Car Sold for Cancer Research

By Carey Stanton

John Schuler was in Auburn, Indiana, to auction his 1948 Tucker sedan to benefit Mayo Clinic cancer research when he was approached by a man he had never met.

“He said, ‘Are you the person donating the Tucker to Mayo Clinic?’” John recalls of the chance meeting. “I said yes, and he started to thank me, saying he was treated at Mayo, and he couldn’t praise it enough.”

The two bonded as John shared his Mayo Clinic story and desire to help others receive the care he experienced.

“I’ve been coming to Mayo Clinic for over 30 years, and they’ve saved my life at least once,” John says. “Every place I turn, people have a great story of Mayo, and I’m one of them.”

John’s story started with another fateful meeting when, as a 10-year-old in his hometown of Aurora, Indiana, he first laid eyes on the sleek lines and modern design that jumped off the page of an ad for a 1948 Tucker sedan.

John never forgot that day, and that car, even though it wasn’t until his retirement that he saw a Tucker again, rekindling his love of the vehicle. John soon joined the Tucker Car Club to share his fondness of the car with others who felt the same way, making friendships that, after decades, led him to finally purchase a Tucker of his own.

The fondness for Tucker cars is due in part to the rarity of vehicles produced, as only 51 were built before Preston Tucker was forced to close his company. Currently, 48 still exist in the possession of museums and collectors.

The Mayo Legacy: 30 Years of Generosity and Impact

John Schuler recognizes that not everyone can donate a classic automobile. But he explains, “We can all do something for the organizations we admire” — and one of the most effective methods is to include a philanthropic gift in one’s will.

John and his wife, Barbara, took that step by joining The Mayo Legacy in 2003. The Mayo Legacy recognition program is for friends of Mayo Clinic who make a bequest in support of advancing Mayo's humanitarian mission. Legacy members also make other types of planned gifts to achieve their philanthropic and financial planning goals. In addition to his bequest, John established a charitable gift annuity in 2019 when he contributed proceeds from the sale of his 1948 Tucker sedan to support cancer research in memory of Barbara.

“The Mayo Legacy is an extension of the Mayo Clinic family,” says Kevin Melvin, J.D., associate chair of the Office of Gift Planning. “Members represent many walks of life. They share a spirit of generosity and the desire to help Mayo’s mission.”

The inspiration for The Mayo Legacy comes from the Mayo brothers. They donated the assets of their medical practice and the majority of their personal savings to establish Mayo Clinic as a not-for-profit organization dedicated to excellence in patient care, education and research.

Since its inception in 1990, The Mayo Legacy has welcomed more than 8,000 members, representing all 50 states and 18 countries around the world. To date, members have contributed more than $3.5 billion, making the Legacy one of the largest sources of financial support for Mayo Clinic.

“Making a will or another type of planned gift is an investment in the future,” says Melvin. “It’s the ultimate statement of what is important to you — and it’s a great honor for Mayo to be included at such a time. As a Mayo Legacy member, you join Mayo Clinic to make a difference for generations to come.”

A Gift In Memory

After acquiring long-sought original parts from the club president, John says it was a labor of joy to own a Tucker and have it restored. He says he cherished his 10 years with the collectible, but following the death of his wife Barbara following complications from lung cancer, he knew the next Tucker ad would be for the sale of his own.

John was speaking with the Office of Planned Giving at Mayo Clinic about making a gift in his wife’s honor, when he learned that people wishing to give can gift a tangible asset —such as a 1948 Tucker—to benefit an area of interest at Mayo Clinic.

“When I first started discussing a gift, I knew Mayo would accept land, but I didn’t know they would take an antique car,” John says.

After initial discussions and learning of the many ways to give a gift to Mayo Clinic, John says he decided his thank-you for his wife’s care would be to part with the Tucker, with proceeds going directly to Mayo Clinic. He says his decision was easy because he was honoring Barbara and their 52 years as husband and wife.

Cancer is a great big monster,” John says. “Those 52 years with Barbara are precious to me.”

The Tucker sold for $900,000 in August 2019, with Worldwide Auctioneers donating its commission so all proceeds could go to cancer research at Mayo Clinic. Ever humble, John says he’s just doing a small part to support Mayo Clinic for the care he and Barbara received.

“It’s a very good feeling to help a stranger,” John says. “It is very important to me, and it’s just a small way that I can contribute because I always loved the Tucker. And I’ve always loved Mayo.”

Make a gift now to help transform the future of health care today.

A conversation with Why I Give Morley Glicken.

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