Bruce Sanft ‘64, P ’92, ’94, ’97, GP ’24

Alumnus on the impact his alma mater has played on three generations Perkiomenites

So much of life is about timing. Perhaps we’re not quite ready to meet that person or to jump at that opportunity. Maybe we’re too near the beginning of that thread of our journey to really hear that well-intentioned advice or see that “sign” to go down a particular path. If we’re lucky, we see that path with clarity and we take it at exactly the right time. This was the case for Bruce Sanft ’64 when he found Perkiomen School in the early 1960s.

Anyone who remembers Bruce as a sophomore might recall him cruising (definitely not speeding!) down Seminary Street in a 1962 Pontiac Tempest with a white top and black interior, or in his senior year, a red 1964 4-speed Pontiac LeMans with a V8 engine. Maybe you were like Richard or Howard, two of his good friends, and can remember Bruce smoking a cigarette on a break from selling ads for The Perkiomenite or heading out for a day with the baseball team where he served as their manager. As a day student, Bruce and his friends – Denny, Neil, and Bryce, just to name a few, had, in his words, “harrowing” drives from Pottstown to Perkiomen. Imagine a few high school kids in the 1960s driving on the hills of Route 663 on those foggy Pennsylvania mornings, trying to get to morning chapel on time each day!

Though, by Bruce’s own admission, he was no angel, however, he also had some serious scholastic ambition. As a teen, he was ready to escape an environment where peers couldn’t see past his thick glasses and penchant for learning. Out of public school and on to Perkiomen, he quickly connected to the community in Pennsburg. He understood the opportunities he had to enroll in AP classes and meet new friends. The timing for Bruce was perfect. Being at a place where he could easily excel in small classroom settings with attentive faculty members, he went on to the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated with a degree in economics from the Wharton School of Business. Eventually, he purchased his father’s car dealership and the rest is history.

Several years ago, Bruce returned to Perkiomen for his 50th class reunion to meet up with old friends and become reacquainted with campus. Many have had the experience of returning to Pennsburg as a graduate, but few can say they have been back with their children, all of whom are also Perkiomen alumni! Bruce wistfully imagines a time when even more members of his family might see the advantages of joining this family educational legacy.

For now, he is thrilled that his granddaughter, Natalie, has quickly discovered a place for herself within the Perkiomen School community— in the classroom, among the arts, and on the soccer field. It’s a treasure to pass such a meaningful tradition and experience to this new generation of the Sanft family.

Just as Bruce’s story in Pennsburg didn’t end with his graduation in 1964, he has included his alma mater in his will. Additionally, he has recently found a way to also give back during his lifetime. By gifting appreciated bonds to set up a Charitable Gift Annuity (CGA), those bonds will ultimately benefit Perkiomen School. A CGA can be set up with almost any kind of asset— securities, property, cash— and it has attractive advantages, providing the donor with an immediate partial tax deduction, as well as a fixed stream of income for the rest of their life. Perkiomen School (the charity) receives the balance of the annuity upon the donor’s death. 

As the years go by, we collect experiences and priorities like trophies, each held close to our heart. We go to school, we look for a place to settle, and perhaps have some kids. We want to ensure our own livelihoods, so like everything, timing plays a big role in our decision to give back. For Bruce, the timing was right! He can watch his granddaughter excel at Perkiomen and see the school community benefit from his contributions in the coming months and years.

Indeed, almost 60 years later, campus is a bit different for Natalie than it was for her grandfather. Hopefully, one of her friends won’t hit his head on a mailbox while sticking it out of the passenger window on a drive to school in the morning. None of the faculty or administrative staff will grab her friends by the earlobe while scolding, “Come with me child; I need to talk to you!” the way Bruce recalls Dean Lytle doing with a student or two when he was in school. But maybe one day she will win the Bausch and Lomb Science Scholarship like her aunt and grandfather did before her. She will definitely experience the life-changing, welcoming environment of support that Bruce recalls, a thread that has woven itself through the classrooms and people over the decades. Thanks to Bruce and donors like him, Perkiomen’s future continues to be bright for generations of students to come.