Unique Gift Launches a Family Legacy
Paul and Karen Seger
Paul and Karen Seger have lived in the Atkinson, NE area all their lives. They raised eight children there, owned and operated the funeral homes in Atkinson and Stuart, and served as volunteers and community activists. The family history goes way back, with both Paul’s and Karen’s grandparents settling in the Stuart-Atkinson area of Holt County.
That history will live on through the Paul and Karen Seger Family Fund established through the Nebraska Community Foundation. An initial gift of ag commodities (kidney beans) raised on the family farms and valued at approximately $130,000, established an endowment that will benefit community activities and organizations in Atkinson, Stuart, Antelope County and Elgin.
“So much wealth goes away; it leaves the community,” Paul said. “This is a way to give back to our folks, those pioneering folks who built our communities. It’s a commitment to give back the help we have received all our lives from so many good people.”
Paul added, “The beauty of an endowment is that it lasts forever. So many times you see a project completed with a one-time large donation and then the money is spent. Through the Foundation, the giving to many different projects will go on through generations.”
The Segers were considering a gift following the sale of farmland. They found out about the opportunity for gifts of agricultural commodities through their accountant and through their local banker and friend, Jon Schmaderer, an NCF board member at the time and a member of the Stuart Community Foundation Fund Advisory Committee.
They learned that when gifting ag commodities, instead of selling the commodities and contributing the sales proceeds, the donor reduces his or her tax liability.
As a result, Paul and Karen decided to gift all of the crop that had not already been sold. The Segers have six daughters and two sons. Four children live in Atkinson. Others live in Neligh, Elgin, Omaha and California. The children will be involved in decisions about how to best reinvest in their hometowns. They feel this gift is just a start. The endowment fund will be in place for future gifts and to give back to the community on a regular basis.
The Segers plan to involve their grandchildren in building the endowment and determining what it should support. “It’s important to get the younger generation involved and for them to see the importance of becoming involved in their communities,” said Paul. “If you get your children and grandchildren really involved in what you’re doing and what you believe in, they’ll remember you and the community where their roots began.
“Yes, my children will share in what Karen and I have built, but we’re thinking of our community as our ninth child.”
Paul Seger has a favorite saying that he often used as a member of the City Council and when he’s busy selling his community to outsiders: “If God would have made any better place, he would have kept it for himself!” Now, the Paul and Karen Seger Family Fund will be at work forever to make their community an even better place.