Significant Estate Gift to Bay Area Community Foundation
Will Benefit Arenac County Organizations
December 14, 2016
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By: MyBayCity Staff
Bay City, MI -- A gift of over $900,000 has been made to the Bay Area Community
Foundation for the benefit of several Arenac County organizations. Representatives from
the Au Gres-Sims-Whitney Volunteer Fire Department, Au Gres Public Library, Au
Gres-Sims School District and the Arenac County Historical Society gathered Monday,
December 12 at the Pere Marquette Depot to listen as Foundation President/CEO Eileen
A. Curtis announced the creation of four new endowed funds to support their non-profit
or government organizations from the gift from the Catherine and John Maser Charitable
Catherine and John Maser were originally from Nebraska. They married in 1924 and
were longtime residents of Au Gres. The Masers had three children; Corrine, Clinton, and
Bernice and were active in their community and their church. The couple owned and
operated the Au Gres Telephone Company which provided service to residents of Au
Gres and Omer. Catherine Maser was in charge of the switchboard and bookkeeping for
23 years while John was the "telephone man". Unfortunately, John died in 1961, but
Catherine continued to run the company with the help of their son.
The Maser family members worked hard through the years and were successful
entrepreneurs who built their business from only 60 customers initially to over 1,000
customers before selling the company in 1978.
Corrine was the last surviving child of Catherine and John; she passed away earlier this
year at age 77. Representatives from the Bay Area Community Foundation had worked
with Corrine and the Maser's financial advisors beginning in 2011 to determine the
allocation of the family's charitable remainder trust.
The Maser's Trust specified that the remainder of their estate be given to the Bay Area
Community Foundation to support four different purposes in the community where they
lived, worked and raised their family. The family's total gift to the Foundation from their
charitable remainder trust was $911,860. From this amount, the following four funds
The John and Clinton Maser Au Gres Fire Department Fund was established to
support the Au Gres-Sims-Whitney volunteer fire department. The endowed portion of
the gift is $66,948 and beginning in 2017, this fund will provide approximately $3,000
annually, based on the investment policies of the Foundation.
Kurt Humerickhouse, Chief of the Au Gres-Sims Fire Department, explained, "I knew
Clinton Maser for several years when was a member of our fire department. He was a
devoted fireman and a good guy. This donation means a lot to our group. It will allow us
to do extra things that wouldn't normally fit into the budget. We appreciate the support
from the Maser family."
The Catherine and John Maser Scholarship Fund was established to provide
scholarships for graduates of Au Gres-Sims High School. With an endowed portion of the
gift of $181,490 beginning in 2017, the funds available will be approximately $5,000.
Five $1,000 scholarships will be available annually through the Bay Area Community
Foundation's annual scholarship application process.
Jeff Collier, Superintendent of Au Gres-Sims School District, explained, "These
scholarships provide amazing opportunities for the students of the Au Gres-Sims School
District. We are extremely appreciative of the Masers for championing higher education
and helping us to reduce or eliminate barriers to education faced by our students. These
funds provide an incredible legacy -- one that will provide for future successful
endeavors for the greater Au Gres community in perpetuity."
The Catherine and John Maser Au Gres Library Field of Interest Fund was created
to support the Au Gres public and high school libraries with an endowed portion of
$173,490. Beginning in 2017, the funds available annually will be approximately $9,000.
"We're very excited about this donation and we will make sure the funds are put to good
use. I look forward to working with the librarian at the high school to direct the funds
generated by this gift. We are so grateful that the Maser family included us in their
charitable plans," remarked Linda Kauffman, Librarian at the Au Gres Community
Finally, The Catherine and John Maser Field of Interest Fund for Historic
Preservation was begun to support renovation, maintenance or repairs of historically
significant buildings in Arenac County, as endorsed by the Arenac County Historical
Society. An endowed gift of $415,930 will result in approximately $20,000 available
funds annually beginning in 2017 based on the investment policies of the Foundation.
Sandy Proulx, President of the Arenac County Historical Society, exclaimed, "I'm still on
cloud nine! I'm so happy for our area and for the Arenac County Historical Society and
so thankful to the Masers for this wonderful gift. To think that they put all of that money
back into our county is such a blessing, I'm going to cry just thinking about it. I really
haven't stopped smiling since Monday night."
Each year, Bay Area Community Foundation staff will work with representatives from
each organization to determine the allocation of the available funds based on current and
"We are extremely fortunate to have donors who remember their home communities in
their estate plans. The generosity of Catherine and John Maser and their entire family has
provided a boost to several Arenac County organizations that they valued and will benefit
the Au Gres community forever," declared Eileen A. Curtis, President/CEO of the Bay
Area Community Foundation.
Curtis concluded, "The Bay Area Community Foundation is honored to be entrusted with
this gift from the Maser family and looks forward to working with the Au Gres-Sims-
Whitney Fire Department, Au Gres Public and High School Libraries, Au Gres-Sims
School District and the Arenac County Historical Society to make the future of Arenac
County even brighter!"
The Bay Area Community Foundation is a community based, philanthropic organization
working to improve the quality of life in Bay and Arenac Counties. The Foundation's
mission is to fulfill a wide array of donors' charitable wishes by building permanent
endowment funds and serving as a leader for community improvement through effective
grantmaking and collaboration. The Bay Area Community Foundation office is located
in the Pere Marquette Depot, 1000 Adams Street, Suite 200, Bay City, MI 48708.
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