Sengelaub remembered with $160,000 endowment

REED CITY — Hersey farmer Adrian Sengelaub will be remembered for many years to come among Osceola County 4-H’ers thanks to an endowment made in his memory on Sunday.

Four of Sengelaub’s family members attended the 65th annual Osceola County 4-H Awards Banquet, where they surprised attendees by announcing a $160,000 donation from Adrian’s estate to the 4-H program. The news was received with a standing ovation.

“This is going to benefit Osceola County 4-H for a long time,” said Jerry Lindquist, agriculture educator for the Osceola County MSU Extension Office, as he introduced Adrian’s relatives. “We’re very thankful, and we just wanted to show our appreciation to the Sengelaub family (on Sunday).”

Wayne Sengelaub, Adrian’s first cousin; Pat Kailing, another of Adrian’s first cousins; Rosemary Kailing, Pat’s wife; and M. Jane Kailing, Adrian’s aunt, made the donation on behalf of Adrian, who died in 2008 at the age of 87.

To the Osceola County Community Foundation, $110,000 was given to support 4-H programs. Another $50,000 was given to the Michigan 4-H Foundation, which is offering a dollar-for-dollar match to any donations made this year. Within four years, the endowments will equal $210,000 and eventually yield about $10,000 annually for Osceola County 4-H.

“It opens up a lot of new opportunities that at this point, I can’t imagine yet,” said Jake Stieg, Osceola County 4-H program instructor. “With the council and the 4-H coordinator, it’s going to strengthen the 4-H program locally.”

Adrian, a longtime farmer in Hersey, never married or had children. He was a 4-H leader for children who attended the rural school where Adrian himself had been a student through eighth grade. Learning carpentry and barn building from his father, Adrian taught the children woodworking.

“He was a very quiet, shy man,” Wayne said. “He had a lot of love for his family, his community and his church.”

In his will, Adrian stated one-quarter of his estate should go to the Osceola County Community Foundation to support something related to farming. With no further instructions, Adrian’s relatives — including his sister, Sister Mary Maurita Sengelaub — began discussing the best way to carry out his wishes. They reached out to Lindquist, who noted the 4-H program’s need for support.

“That gave us the idea to set up both of the funds to support 4-H,” Pat said. “He was always willing to help — whether it was to show you how to do something or to build something. I think he would really love that (his estate is helping 4-H youth).”

After announcing the endowment, the Sengelaub relatives spent their dinnertime at the banquet sharing fond memories of Adrian and his love for tractor pulls and old steam engines.

Pat noted the perfect timing of the donation. Adrian died during a slump in the housing market, so no one bid on his property for several years. When the housing market rebounded, relatives recently were able to sell the estate — just in time for the Michigan 4-H Foundation’s year of grant matching.

“No individual could have arranged this,” Pat said. “It was an act of God.”