Estate gifts power community impact


Estate gifts rank among the largest that a community foundation can expect to receive. They certainly rate among the largest made to the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

Because of their size, they also stand among the most impactful gifts we receive.

Estate gifts now help fund community grants, designated grants that benefit specific organizations and funds that finance scholarships.

Included among those is the Trinity Lutheran High School Endowment, which is a relatively new fund that will pay its first grant to the school in March 2022. It was established through a fund agreement between the foundation and Trinity Lutheran High School. The school plans to fund scholarships for students needing a hand in attending the school, Principal Clayton Darlage said.

“Throughout the history of our school, there have been hundreds of generous supporters who have dedicated many talents and treasures in order to ensure success at our wonderful school,” he added. “As years and decades passed, the Governing Body and Administrative Team at TLHS realized that it was necessary to create an independent foundation or partner with the community foundation and set up a designated fund there in order to meet the wishes of our generous and caring donors.”

Darlage said the need developed when the wishes of Sally Waldkoetter and Ned Fear’s estates dedicated gifts to Trinity for the purpose of merit scholarships for students to attend the school, located along County Road 875E just north of Seymour. Since those initial gifts to this fund, it recently grew with a gift from the Marietta Louise Surenkamp estate.

Their foresight and interest in helping others and giving back to the communities where they lived and worked and enjoyed life will benefit others for many years to come.

Their generosity extends beyond helping start the Trinity Lutheran High School Endowment, however. Marietta’s estate also created the Marietta Louise and Erwin August Henry Surenkamp Scholarship Fund, a new fund at the foundation that will offer scholarships to graduating seniors intending to study agriculture or agri-business. And through her work with the foundation staff, Sally outlined in her will the creation of several funds here — the Sarah M. Waldkoetter Community Fund and two that pay grants to her church, Trinity Lutheran Church south of Vallonia. One of those benefits the church in general, and the other benefits its music ministry and upkeep of the church organ.

These are examples of just two estate gifts that are now hard at work making an impactful difference in our community. These gifts act as a means to giving back or paying it forward, however one prefers to phrase that concept.

Estate gifts can also preserve the memory of those who make them, allowing their names and family names to live on forever, just as the impact of their generosity should live on forever.

Anyone can make a donation into funds that were established by estate gifts.

If you are planning to write or update your will, the foundation offers an estate planning guide that we would be happy to share with you. Call us or e-mail us. The guide is available at no cost or obligation. It can be a helpful tool when talking with your attorney and financial advisor as you prepare or update your will. We’ll be happy to talk with you about your needs and your desires to help your favorite charities and church for generations to come.

The worst thing you can do in terms of creating a will is to procrastinate. We all can keep waiting for a more convenient time, but the years have a way of slipping by. A will delayed is often one not done. Write it — while you are able and capable. For your sake, and that of your loved ones, write it now. It could also go a long way toward ensuring that the charities you support today continue to benefit from your generosity long into the future.

Short of establishing a new fund, your will also can ensure that favorite charities are remembered by making bequests to any of the endowed funds administered by the foundation that make annual grants to local agencies. They include the Boys and Girls Club, Girls Inc., the foundation, Jackson County History Center, Jackson County Public Library and many others.

For instance, the Voss family has established The F. Walter Voss and Tom G. Voss Boys and Girls Club of Seymour Fund. Tom, who was the foundation’s first executive director, established the fund in the names of his brother (Walter “Bud” Voss) and himself in August 1996. A bequest from the former funeral director and banker’s estate increased the fund’s balance upon his death at age 91 in 2015. And Bud’s son, Kieffer, has recently made a qualified charitable distribution from his IRA to benefit the fund, which will increase the annual grant to the Boys and Girls Club. He has also named the fund as a beneficiary to his IRA.

If you would like to learn more about how your planned giving can make a lasting, perpetual difference in our community, call me at 812-523-4483. We’d enjoy talking with you, learning about what your giving goals are and helping you meet them.

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If you are planning to write or update your will, the foundation offers an estate planning guide that it can share, available at no cost or obligation.

It can be a helpful tool when talking with your attorney and financial advisor as you prepare or update your will.

Pick it up at the foundation office, 107 Community Drive, Seymour.

Or call 812-523-4483.


Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. For information about donating to the foundation, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to Dan Davis at [email protected].

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