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A Jefferson City native has made the largest gift commitment in the history of the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.

Frank "Chip" Deel, an alumnus from the graduating class of 1973, made a trust estate gift currently valued at $15 million, the UCM Alumni Foundation announced Monday.

Deel majored in economics at what was then Central Missouri State University and started his own business, Superior Trailer Sales, 35 years ago.

In a news release from the school, Deel credited his CMSU professors, in particular World War II Army veteran Joseph Dolecki, for teaching him how to run a successful business. Deel sold the company in spring 2018, about a month before Dolecki, who devoted 28 years to teaching economics at the university, died at 100.

"I wanted to give it to a place where it will do the most good," Deel said. "It's where I grew up and had a lot of great experiences."

Deel said his gift also is to honor former diving coach Tom Hairabedian, who died in June 2020 at 96.

School officials said Hairabedian took Deel and other Diving Mules under his wing, looking after them to ensure they succeeded academically. Deel recalled the diving coach taking his student-athletes to the library and assigning each one a table where he expected to see them studying 1-3 p.m. each day, before swim practice.

"He was the greatest influence I'll ever have in my life," Deel said. "Central Missouri State was just a real positive experience. Student government, sports, everything I did. I had a ball there; it's just a wonderful school with wonderful kids."

In addition to Deel's trust estate gift, Deel recently made a $10,000 contribution to his alma mater through the unrestricted Central Annual Fund and supported the "In This Together: Student Hardship Fund" to help UCM students facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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