Polk County Itemizer-Observer
By Aaron Newton
July 23rd, 2013
MONMOUTH — Two Monmouth service organizations walked away from a meeting July 17 with two giant checks in hand.
Former Western Oregon University professor Wilma Hein bequeathed more than $220,000 to the Monmouth-Independence Community Foundation and the Friends of the Monmouth Library.
Hein, who died in January, taught at WOU for 22 years in the physical education department.
A world traveler and U.S. Navy veteran during the Korean War, Hein settled in Monmouth in 1972 and began teaching at Western.
“She just knew of the organizations and respected them for what they did for the community,” Judi Speck, Hein’s niece, said. “She really was an avid reader. She didn’t normally buy books. She really believed in the library system.”
Each organization received slightly more than $110,000 from the Hein estate, the largest single gift from an individual either had been given.
The Hein estate — administered by Speck and Terri Dean, Hein’s sister — contacted each organization in the spring with the news that each had been named in Hein’s will.
Each group’s board is working through the process of deciding where the bequest will go.
“We have a dual purpose. One is that we administer scholarships to Central High graduates,” MICF Treasurer Cec Koontz said. “And we raise and administer money for classroom enrichment grants for Central School District teachers.”
On top of the scholarship and enrichment grant programs, MICF has endowment funds for each program and manages funds for other service organizations in Monmouth and Independence — including the Friends of the Monmouth Library.
The MICF board is mulling its various options for the bequest and will have a decision by its September meeting, Koontz said.
Unlike the Dallas Community Foundation, which used a large bequest to start a community grant program, MICF does not create grant programs, other than the two for Central schools.
“Occasionally we get requests (for grants). When people hear community foundation they think, ‘Let’s go get some money,'” Koontz said. “One of our options might be to add a new granting program and put this money away and use it for that in the future. That’s not been determined yet.”
The Friends of the Monmouth Library is discussing the potential for new projects with Monmouth Library Director Krist Obrist.
The group is also working out the potential for a memorial to Hein at the library, a fitting tribute for a woman who so highly valued reading and education.
“Her sister mentioned how much it pleased her to see a child reading,” Jeanne Deane, president of the Friends of the Monmouth Library, said. “It was a very nice gift. We’re quite excited that we’ll be able to do some very nice things for the library.”