Sisters’ love for hometown inspires gifts for the future

Their homes in Orange County, California, may be 1,300 miles from Overton, but the Dawson County community remains close in the hearts of sisters Sue Batie and Tricia Luse.

The women spent their early years on a family farm northeast of Overton but moved to Lexington with their mother in 1954 following the death of their father, Leroy “Ward” Batie. Four years later, the family moved to San Pedro, California. Though they were still young when they left Nebraska, the generosity of their Dawson County neighbors left an impression on the sisters.

After Ward’s death from polio, the community rallied around the family. Neighbors and friends helped their mother, Carol, around the house and assisted with a revolving door of paperwork, sales, and auctions in the months leading up to the family’s relocation to Lexington. Sue said that generosity remains commonplace in Greater Nebraska.

“Even if they don’t know you, they do that,” she said. “Something happens and farmers stop what they’re doing to make sure everything goes OK. That hasn’t changed.”

Sue, Tricia, and their mother took almost-annual trips back to Dawson County over the years, up until Carol’s death in 2011. Sue and Tricia both cherish memories made with their mother during those state-spanning road trips.

“Our mom was a strong woman,” Tricia said. “We miss her so much.”

The pair still answer the call of the open road, venturing across the country to take in the sights and sounds of America’s highways for days or even weeks at a time. Though they are quite familiar with the I-80 corridor, both prefer to go off the beaten path, following their curiosity away from roads well-traveled.

“I like to get on gravel roads and old state highways,” Sue said. “You get to see some country.”

Sue and Tricia trek back to their Nebraska stomping grounds as often as possible to catch up with family connections and see first-hand how Dawson County has changed over the years. The community made such on impact on them—not just in their youth but throughout their lives—that they wanted to give back. When it came time to update their estate planning documents, they knew they wanted to work with the towns that made them who they are today.

Sue was aware of Lexington’s community foundation, but it wasn’t until a chance glance at the Lexington Clipper-Herald that she learned about the Overton Area Community Fund, an NCF affiliated fund. The newspaper featured a photo of an OACF parade float, which led her to seek out fund volunteers and learn more about their mission. They were impressed by the fund’s community-focused mission and grassroots approach.

“It’s coming up from the community,” Sue said. “You get better support and better chances of getting more donors.”

Tricia felt like she had found an organization aligned with what was important to her.

“I never could decide where exactly I wanted mine to go,” she said. “And my heart just went, ‘yes, that’s it!’”

Though they live in California, they feel that wealth generated in Nebraska should stay in Nebraska. Sue and Tricia are grateful to their parents and grandparents, who diligently managed their money and property to provide them with what they need to thrive.

“We’re blessed,” Sue said. “They were good stewards of the land and made good decisions. We have benefited from that. It would be selfish not to give back. It would be selfish to have the land sold and have it go to California. It should stay where their roots were.”

For information on how you can give back to your hometown contact Jim Gustafson or Emily Sulzle at Nebraska Community Foundation’s Office of Gift Planning, 402.323.7330 or info@nebcommfound.org.