Pedro Pantoja’s relationship with Missouri Southern goes back nearly four decades, to when he and his late wife, Alice, purchased the Star Country Store at the corner of Seventh Street and Duquesne Road.

Their business brought them into contact with students from the college, and properties the couple purchased at different corners of the intersection soon became home to members of the football team and the Kappa Alpha fraternity. Having come to the United States from Mexico on a student visa in the 1950s, Pantoja knows the value of education and made it a point to help others further their studies.

“We lent money to kids who wanted to go to college,” he says. “They had to give me a copy of their grades and had to be making at least a 2.7 (GPA). We sent 12 to 14 kids to college.”

Pantoja’s background is in international sales and marketing. Having traveled to 90 countries throughout his career, he says he was extremely supportive of then Missouri Southern President Julio León’s efforts to establish an international mission, and helped bring ambassadors from China, Mexico and Taiwan to campus. Today, he continues to support students at MSSU by establishing the Pedro and Alice Pantoja scholarship. He has also established what is known as a charitable gift annuity (CGA).

With a CGA, donors can transfer cash or appreciated securities (thus avoiding capital gains taxes) to the Missouri Southern Foundation in exchange for an immediate tax deduction and a lifetime stream of annual income which is also partially tax-free. When the donor passes, the charity keeps the remainder of the gift. The amount of the income stream is determined by many factors, but in almost all cases CGA rates are much better than investing in the money market or bonds.

“Missouri Southern shows students how to make money with their hands and their ideas,” Pantoja says of his incentive to remain supportive of the university.

The Missouri Southern Foundation encourages supporters to consult their financial planners when considering a charitable gift.

To discuss making a gift to the Missouri Southern Foundation, please call 417-625-3104 or 417-625-9622. To make a gift online, visit