Angela and Bob Knauss have a simple philosophy when it comes to philanthropy.
“In our giving, we look to organizations that benefit our local communities and then to those who do extraordinary work,” Angela says. “MD Anderson certainly fits both categories, and the fact that both of us have benefited as patients at MD Anderson makes it imperative that it be one of the organizations that we support.”
MD Anderson’s mission and quality of research, and their own experience and shared respect for the institution, led the Knausses to support MD Anderson through a generous estate gift. They chose to create a charitable remainder trust honoring Angela’s oncologist, Daniel Booser, M.D., professor of Breast Medical Oncology, whom Angela describes as “a treasure.”
“We have personally benefited not only from the institution’s medical care, but also from the generous spirit of its professional staff, which is so important to a patient’s health and recovery,” Angela says. “This generosity of spirit, combined with outstanding knowledge and common sense, is exemplified in Dr. Booser, in whose honor we have made this gift.”
Growing up in Manhattan, Angela loved horses and wanted to be a cowgirl. As a boy, Bob spent his formative years in Detroit and imagined that one day he’d have a farm. The two met in Ann Arbor, Mich., and have since lived in several parts of the U.S. They came to Texas in 1981, when Bob was offered the deanship of the University of Houston Law Center.
After Bob resigned in 1993, the Knausses split their time between Houston and Hanover, N.H. When 400 acres became available in Burton, a rural community about 85 miles northwest of Houston, Angela and Bob bought the property, left New Hampshire, and began clearing the land and building a home.
“It wasn’t a real ranch; I guess you could call it a ‘wannabe ranch,’” Angela says. “We took in animals that needed homes. The only things we produced were the eggs from our hens.”
Both “animal people,” they adopted eight wild donkeys from a rescue ranch in Murchison, Texas. Angela volunteered for many years at an animal shelter in nearby Brenham, and they acquired a wide range of animals. During that time, Angela founded a nonprofit that provides low-cost, no-cost spay/neuter and wellness care. She also built a dog park in Brenham that includes areas for small and large dogs and offers agility training.
Choosing to give
Angela turned to MD Anderson for treatment for her initial breast cancer diagnosis in 1992 and a recurrence in 2001. After Bob also received a cancer diagnosis and was treated successfully at MD Anderson, the Knausses knew they wanted to support the institution that had extended their lives.
When the couple decided to sell the ranch, the timing was right to make the bequest to MD Anderson through their estate planning. Today, Angela and Bob divide their time between Saugatuck, Mich., and Brenham, and they remain active supporters of MD Anderson.