Northeast Nebraska couple’s historic gift to help foster Catholic education into future
November 21, 2023
Leonard and Adele Hassenstab believed that their long and happy life together at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Humphrey was a blessing from God.
Everything – the family they raised, the faith they cultivated, the career success they enjoyed – were gifts, and they strove to be good stewards of these gifts throughout their lives, their daughter Deb Herchenbach says.
Adele passed away in November 2022, with Leonard joining his wife of 74 years in January 2023. As in their life, the couple continued to serve the Church in their death, bequeathing a historic gift to their life-long parish through Catholic Futures Foundation of Northeast Nebraska (CFF).
According to the CFF fund description, the Leonard V. and Adele M. Hassenstab Endowment Fund, valued at $1.75 million, was established “to assist St. Francis Catholic School in Humphrey, Nebraska, by providing an annual distribution to St. Francis Church in Humphrey for the specific purpose of offsetting the operating expenses of St. Francis Catholic School.”
Catholic Futures Foundation funds, like the Hassenstab named fund, “is a way of having support and income from other sources instead of needing to raise all the funds from within the parish, school, or organization,” says Father Stanley Schmit, pastor of St. Francis Church.
And gifts, such as the Hassenstab’s, are life-altering for parishes.
“The Catholic faith, including Catholic education, was of paramount importance to my parents. So, a bequest to St. Francis School really aligns with their beliefs and priorities,” Herchenbach says.
“Knowing of my dad’s many years of promoting and managing the St. Francis Endowment Fund, I felt establishing this donor-named endowed fund with CFF would be a perfect way to honor their wishes of continuing to support St. Francis,” Herchenbach continues. “Their bequest will provide a steady stream to offset school expenses, which will aid in keeping tuition costs affordable for area families. We also hope it will enable the school to continue to offer competitive wages to attract and retain quality staff for the school.”
“On behalf of the school family of Humphrey St. Francis and myself, I wish to express our deepest gratitude for the incredible generosity of Leonard and Adele Hassenstab. Their support and belief in Catholic education for the future is a true sign of discipleship and stewardship,” Fr. Schmit says.
Adele and Leonard both attended St. Francis Elementary School and St. Francis High School. Adele completed two years at Marymount College in Salina, Kansas, and Leonard was drafted to serve in the U.S. Army in the Pacific during World War II. They married in 1948 while Leonard pursued a finance degree from Creighton University, courtesy of the GI Bill. Upon Leonard’s graduation, the couple returned to their native Humphrey, where they raised their eight children and welcomed 30 grandchildren and numerous great-grandchildren.
Leonard and Adele were active in St. Francis well beyond attending Sunday Mass or being daily communicants.
Adele’s definition of family extended beyond nuclear to include the St. Francis community. She served in the school cafeteria as a lunch lady and in the classroom as a teacher assistant, helping students struggling with their ABCs discover the joys of reading. As if she didn’t have enough housekeeping with her own family, Adele helped clean the church and launder altar linens, served on dinner committees, and volunteered with the Home and School Association. She even carved out time to sing in St. Francis’ ladies’ choir.
As employee and eventual owner of Farmers State Bank and owner and operator of Hassenstab Insurance Agency, Leonard channeled his professional experience to St. Francis’ many financial boards and committees. For decades, he played an integral role as managing trustee in establishing, building, and promoting the church and school endowments. He was an active member of the Knights of Columbus and served on the St. Francis School Board and the Archdiocesan School Board.
He was “keeper of the keys” to the parish finances – and church elevator. When the old church needed an elevator, Leonard and a fellow parishioner researched which model was best, drove to Omaha to purchase it, and then installed it with his brother. When anyone got stuck, they’d call Leonard to get them out.
“They were always so proud to have graduated from St. Francis and then having the blessing of educating their children at St. Francis,” Herchenbach says. “They were 100 percent invested in St. Francis and realized that sustaining the parish and school takes a collective effort of many who share their time, talent, and treasure.”
Herchenbach says her St. Francis education provided a faith foundation that she, her siblings, and their own children have relied upon in times of joy and sorrow.
“Catholic education gave all of us a roadmap on how to live and that provides a great sense of peace in our lives,” she says.
As executor of her parents’ estate, Herchenbach enlisted the assistance of CFF because it ticked all the boxes her parents would have wished: the monies would benefit their beloved St. Francis, the fund would be managed within the Archdiocese and by a reliable third party, their investment would adhere to their Catholic principles, and the fund would be open to contributions from others.
“Investing with Catholic Future Foundation is a perfect way to make a lasting gift for future generations,” Herchenbach says.