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Napoleon man's $3 million gift to spur learning

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Napoleon man's $3 million gift to spur learning

Post by bluegill on January 14th 2010, 9:57 am

Northwest State Community College is the college that I went to for 2 years. It is a small community college. I really enjoyed going to college there. Believe it or not, I actually miss going to college and learning new things every day...


Bequest names Northwest State College
By JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

ARCHBOLD, Ohio - Francis O. Fackler didn't leave nearly $3 million to Northwest State Community College without doing his homework.

The Napoleon man, who only finished the eighth grade, not only considered other colleges and universities in the area but visited an assistance dog training school in Wisconsin and met with the National Rifle Association, said his friend, Shirley Distel. "He was a smart man," Mrs. Distel said, adding that Mr. Fackler's lack of formal education coupled with an abundance of common sense led him to leave the bulk of his estate to Northwest State. "He only had an eighth-grade education, and I think that's why he thought about providing opportunities because he didn't have them for college. He didn't even have them for high school."

Wednesday, Northwest State officials happily displayed a giant check from Mr. Fackler's estate for $2,975,000 made out to the college's foundation. The gift was the largest received in the college's 40-year history.

Mr. Fackler, who died in May at the age of 94, specified in his will that the money be used to award scholarships to financially needy, academically deserving students who live in Henry County.

"He was very specific because Francis always did his homework," his attorney, David Meekison, said after the presentation. "Francis ruled out the other colleges - Defiance, Bowling Green, Toledo, Owens. He talked to parents and grandparents of kids he knew at Northwest State and got such raving compliments. That's why he chose Northwest State."

Northwest President Thomas Stuckey said interest on the gift is expected to generate at least $125,000 a year for student scholarships, the first round of which will be awarded for the upcoming fall semester.
The need for such scholarships is undeniable, he said. Unemployment in northwest Ohio is hovering around 13 percent, while only 17 percent of the people in the college's five-county service area have earned associate's degrees or higher, Mr. Stuckey said.

"That compares to 33 percent at the state level and 37 percent at the national level," he said. "Yes, there is a need for these dollars."

Mr. Stuckey said the college is "seeking partners" in the other four counties it serves - Defiance, Fulton, Paulding, and Williams - to create scholarship opportunities for students from those areas.

"He deeply hoped his example of giving to Northwest State would spur on others - friends, graduates of the college - to make other gifts to make the mission of the college even better," Mr. Meekison said.

Mr. Fackler, a Navy Seabee in World War II, spent much of his life as a construction worker in Jackson, Mich. Mr. Meekison said he was proud to have helped build the University of Michigan football stadium in Ann Arbor.

Mr. Fackler and his wife, Charlien Elvin, had no children but invested their money in real estate. When he became injured on the job, he and his wife sold their property and moved to South Carolina.

Mrs. Distel said it was in South Carolina that Mr. Fackler met a man who gave him advice about investing in the stock market.

"He said some things he didn't always agree on, but he would read and if he felt it was a good investment he would do it," she said.

When his wife died in 1989, Mr. Fackler moved back to his native Napoleon. He bought a house in the country, went to Sunday night dances at the Bavarian Haus in Deshler, and started going to the Henry County Senior Center where he liked to work puzzles and play cards. That's where he met Mrs. Distel about eight years ago.

Although a subsequent hip replacement prevented him from dancing, Mr. Fackler had a good sense of humor and enjoyed life.

"We laughed every day," Mrs. Distel, 80, said.

She saw him through the colon cancer that ultimately ended his life.

"He always stayed frugal," she added. "We went to Aldi and he bought the big boxes. He'd make powdered milk. They were just habits he must have felt he couldn't break."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:
jfeehan@theblade.com
or 419-724-6129.
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