On Monday, Abraham Lincoln Memorial
Hospital, St. John United Church of Christ, Christian Homes and the
Salvation Army in Logan County all received percentage shares of the
remainder of the Keest estate.
"Their whole life was about helping
people, just like it is now," says Jill Apel of Beason, whose
husband, Garret, is a cousin to Hilda. "They weren't the kind of
people who said they would just be philanthropists through their
estate. They gave in so many ways while they were living."
"If one of their friends got to where
they couldn't drive anymore, Harold and Hilda would go out of their
way to transport them to church, doctor's appointments and other
events," recalls the Rev. Richard Reinwald of St. John United Church
Harold was well-known around Logan
County as a well witcher -- someone who used a special stick to find
the perfect place to dig a well for an abundant supply of fresh
water. Hilda was a great cook and always had supplies in her panty
to make a dish for a dinner at church or for another family in need,
Harold and Hilda Apel Keest were
married on Feb. 14, 1946, at the St. John's parsonage in Lincoln. He
was from Broadwell and she from Lawndale. They spent the majority of
their married life working the Lawndale farm that had belonged to
Hilda's family but took time out to go dancing and play pinochle
with friends. They retired to the Christian Village in Lincoln,
where Harold died Dec. 26, 2000, and Hilda on April 21, 2003.
The Keest estate gift will have a
profound effect on services offered for people in Logan County.
The Salvation Army was able to break
ground this winter on a $700,000 housing center, due in large part
to the gift from the Keest estate. "We are very appreciative of this
major gift because it, along with many other gifts, is enabling us
to build at this time." said Capt. Bonnie Sanders. Sanders added
that the board voted unanimously to name the center "The Salvation
Army Keest Center." It should be finished by mid-September of this
Lincoln Memorial Hospital will use its share of the Keest estate
to add to the sizable endowment fund established in 1960. "The
investment earnings from this fund are directed toward local
programs that improve the health of our community, and the principal
is used only for major building or renovation projects at ALMH,"
said Marty Ahrends, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln
"Contributions from many generous
community members throughout the years have helped us maintain nice
facilities and keep current with medical technology," Ahrends said.
"Mr. and Mrs. Keest will be remembered as ‘Humanitarians' on our
donor wall for remembering ALMH in their estate plan."
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The Keests' gift for St. John United
Church of Christ was restricted for investment in the church's
endowment fund, with the principal invaded only for major capital
building projects. "Twenty years ago our church leaders decided it
would be wise to establish an endowment fund for those times when
our expenses exceeded income," said the Rev. Reinwald. "We ask our
members every year if they have included St. John in their will or
estate plans, and we have been blessed with several members leaving
estate gifts to the church."
Larry Simonson, director of development
with Christian Homes, also had a chance to get to know the Keests
while they lived at the Christian Village. "They were a wonderful,
good, solid family in our community," said Simonson. "Because of
their very generous gift we will soon be able to move forward with a
plan to remodel several resident rooms at the Christian Village. We
praise God for their generosity!"
The Keests were able to accomplish
their philanthropic goals through an estate plan that first made
provisions for several friends and family members. "The local
charities most important to them received what was left over after
assets were liquidated and the bills were paid," said John R.
Gehlbach of the Gehlbach Law Offices in Lincoln.
"Our office has always encouraged our
clients to keep their charitable bequests local in nature," Gehlbach
added. "Language in the estate plan should specifically provide the
legal name of the local charity and its address to ensure that the
proceeds will not go to a national or regional organization that may
not use the money as the donors had intended."
It does not take a large charitable
gift from a wealthy estate like that of the Keests' to create a
legacy. According to Larry Johnson, president of the Central
Illinois Planned Giving Council, more than 70 percent of Americans
give to charity annually, however less than 5 percent make
charitable contributions through their will or trust.
"I have found that the simple act of
taking the time to remember a charity in an estate plan can really
enhance a donor's life," says Johnson, who is an active promoter of
the national Leave A Legacy program.
Planned gifts are easy to
arrange. Wills and trusts can be crafted by attorneys to either
include a defined gift to a charity or to allocate a specific
percentage of the remainder of the estate as a charitable
gift. Charities can also be named as beneficiaries on life insurance
policies and retirement plans.
taking the time to make this planned gift, the Keests will have a
lasting impact on a lot of people in Logan County for many years to
come," said Ahrends. "This simple act of giving will provide safe
and attractive housing for those in need, a more secure future for
the ministries of their church, and quality health care for all. Now
that's a powerful gift."
[Abraham Lincoln Healthcare