Multi-million dollar bequest doubles OCCF fund balance

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Many lives will be changed because of one man’s wishes.

Last week, two checks passed from one hand to another.

Together they totaled $2.8 million.

And that’s just a beginning.

David Randall, a trustee for the estate of David Bonsall, said he anticipates the total gift to the Osceola County Community Foundation will be in excess of $3.5 million.

The gift is to the Foundation’s Kent-Bonsall Endowment Fund, a fund Bonsall created in 2004. The name honors his maternal grandparents, Ray and Mary Kent, owners of the Kent Grain Elevator in Reed City as well.

The gift nearly doubles the Foundation’s assets which stood at $2.9 million at the end of 2010.

Bonsall, a Reed City High School graduate, taught at Cadillac High School from 1961-65, then at Reed City Junior High from 1965 until he retired in 1989. He was active in many local civic and government organizations. He died in December, 2010.

“Dave Bonsall was strongly committed to Osceola County and felt that giving a significant gift to the Osceola County Community Foundation would be an appropriate way to give back to his community,” noted attorney David McCurdy. “He felt the Foundation was a flexible way to make sure his donation was used “For Good For Ever”, which is the motto of the Foundation.”

Dick LeBaron, a Reed City financial adviser and friend of Bonsell, said there was always a serious commitment to “home” in all he did.

“Dave Bonsall’s gift to the Osceola County Community Foundation is a testament to what makes Osceola a great place to live,” he pointed out. “I know Dave was grateful to the many residents of the area who helped to make him and his parents successful.

“He wanted to give back to those people and their descendents,” LeBaron added. “Dave would be pleased to know that the interest earned on his gift will be spent annually to continue to improve lives in Osceola County indefinitely into the future.”

Bonsell’s bequest is far beyond “substancial.”

“It will surprise many to know that his gift to the Osceola County Community Foundation is the largest gift in the Foundation’s history,” reported Alan Bengry, president of the OCCF. “Assets stood at $2.9 million prior to the this gift from him to the Foundation.

“I know he felt that the Foundation would be a good vehicle to make sure his gift is used wisely to benefit his community.

“We are very grateful to Mr. Bonsall for his selfless generosity.”

Bengry noted that the gift will remain in the Kent-Bonsall Fund, and by receiving this prior to the end of June, it will be “usable for 2012.” He explained that 4.25 percent of the balances at the end of the fiscal year figure into what’s available for the next, “so we’ll be able to add about $112,000 to the money available for grants as a result of this wonderful gift.”

Since its inception in 2004, the Kent-Bonsall Fund has already granted $46,000 to the Osceola Community. In addition to benefiting campers at Rose Lake Camp, Reed City library patrons, Reed City Public School students, residents of the community, Love Inc., visitors to the Old Rugged Cross Historical Museum, and others.

The Osceola County Community Foundation is a geographic affiliate fund of the Fremont Area Community Foundation. This gift is the single largest gift of the Community Foundations in Lake, Mecosta, Newaygo, and Osceola counties.

Robert Jordan, vice-president of Philanthropic Services of the Fremont Area Community Foundation, was on hand when the checks were presented so that he could return them to Fremont and the necessary transactions could be completed before the end of the month.

Asked why two checks were written rather than just one, Bonsall’s trustee explained that the money had come from two accounts rather than one.

Bengry said the gift from Bonsall was extraordinary, “... but it isn’t necessarily the gifts of that size that keep everything going. It’s everybody’s gift.

“I think the inspiration for a big gift was because of all the smaller gifts prior to that, and seeing what can happen with that, brought this about too.

“It’s a wonderful thing to see how people continue to make this work for so many in so many ways.”