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Significant Estate Gift to Bay Area Community Foundation

Will Benefit Arenac County Organizations

December 14, 2016       Leave a Comment
By: MyBayCity Staff

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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 Trust.

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 were established:

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 Library.

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 projected needs.

"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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