One afternoon in 1968, two Wagner mathematics alumni ran into each other at the Staten Island Savings Bank.
One of them, Jane Tilson ’57, was depositing her paycheck from RCA Records. A double major in music and math, she was an album cover editor.
The other, Allan Brier ’55, was withdrawing money he needed for a trip to Minnesota, where he had an interview for an engineering job.
They knew each other already — they had both grown up in Staten Island, overlapping at Curtis High School as well as at Wagner College. But at that point, they didn’t know each other well.
If you’re wondering if this meeting would add up to anything (pun intended), the answer is, yes. After a chat, Jane asked Allan to get in touch when he returned and let her know how the interview went. Allan already had a good job with the New York Telephone Company, and the salary in Minnesota couldn’t compete. But he did follow up with Jane — and found his future.
On February 8, 2019, Jane and Allan Brier celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a dinner at the Chatham Bars Inn on Cape Cod. They had vacationed there for 25 years, and they loved it so much that they retired there in 2000.
As it turned out, Jane spent 40 years with RCA, later BMG; and Allan put in 30 years with New York Telephone, ending as a top operations person. His career also included three years of active duty with the U.S. Coast Guard and 21 years in the Coast Guard Reserve, where he attained the rank of captain.
Together, the Briers enjoyed traveling throughout the United States and abroad, raising prize roses, attending concerts, and serving their community and church. A Wagner choir alumna, Jane continued to sing in church choirs in New Jersey and in Massachusetts.
Not having children, and both being Wagner alumni, they also decided to “adopt” Wagner. Blessed with good jobs, stock options, and employers like Verizon that match charitable gifts made by employees and retirees, they have given to Wagner annually throughout their marriage. (New York Telephone morphed into Verizon over the years.)
“It just got to be habit if you will,” says Allan. “It was money well deserved as a thank you for the education we got, and we recognized that the College needed the money.”
They put extra effort into supporting projects of special meaning to them, such as the Margery Mayer and Sigvart J. Steen Scholarship for Excellence in Music. Legendary choir director Sigvart Steen and vocal coach Margery Steen played a key role in Jane’s life. They also made a significant gift to name a faculty office in the future new academic building, the Center for Global Learning.
As Heritage Society members, the Briers have also included Wagner in their estate plans. “The education that we got was instrumental in giving us the lifestyle we have enjoyed during our careers and in our retirement,” says Allan. Their gifts are now adding up to a better future for Wagner College.