Shirley Lindekugel found a home in Greater Nebraska through her husband, Howard. Together, they’ve left a $362,260 gift to benefit the communities they loved.
The bulk of the gift—$326,034—will be a boon for the Wallace Community Foundation Fund (WCFF).
“It took everyone a couple seconds to process the size of the gift,” said Fund Advisory Committee (FAC) Chair Shawn Gartrell. “It was just amazing.”
Shirley designated the money to bolster WCFF’s unrestricted endowment, a permanent account wherein assets are invested to generate an ongoing source of income year after year. Investment earnings from the endowment are used to support community improvements and programs. The FAC determines how the money generated from the endowment will be used to benefit the community now and in the future.
The fund has used endowment payout in the past to update the legion hall, paint the community building, renovate restrooms at the ball diamond and purchase a kiln for the school, among other projects. The Lindekugels’ gift will almost double WCFF’s endowment, vastly increasing their grantmaking capacity.
“In three years, we’ll have double the amount of money to give out in grants as we did in the last year,” Gartrell said. “That means a lot to a small community.”
The fund is asking for members of the community to share their ideas for future projects that the Lindekugels’ gift will make possible.
The couple met at a dance in New Orleans. Shirley, a Louisiana native, was working for the army as a typist, and Howard—a native of Hershey —was a captain in the army. He would eventually be promoted to major. The two wed in 1943, then trekked north to Nebraska to meet Howard’s parents. The couple briefly lived in New York City before Howard deployed to fight in World War II’s European theatre. Shirley returned to the Crescent City until he returned from service, then they moved to a farm outside Hershey and started their life together, raising cattle in Lincoln County.
After Howard’s death in 1976, Shirley moved to Hershey, then to North Platte. Along the way she met Jim Smith, a now-retired financial advisor and founding member of the Wallace Community Foundation Fund. The two became fast friends.
They talked often of Shirley’s love for Nebraska, especially the Lincoln County communities of Hershey and Wallace. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of future Nebraskans while honoring her husband’s memory. Smith helped her as she went through the estate planning process, including setting aside money for a scholarship fund at Hershey Public Schools. Beginning in 2022, HPS will receive an annual grant to award scholarships to students, with a preference for those interested in pursuing teaching careers.
“She wanted these scholarships to go to anybody, but especially anybody that wanted to be a schoolteacher or nurse,” Smith said.
The school is grateful for the gift, which will have a lasting impact on students.
“HPS is thrilled and honored to accept this generous endowment from Howard and Shirley Lindekugel to supply a scholarship for a Hershey graduate who is pursuing a teaching degree,” said HPS Superintendent Jane Davis. “Teachers have the ability to invest in the most precious asset that we have, our children. This gift will touch many lives for years to come.”