Surprise endowment to help five agencies

Barney Kanthack lived in Alpena for 84 years. Some people knew him through his business, Barney’s Septic Cleaning, but chances are few people really knew him well.

Kanthack never married, never had children. He worked hard but he also enjoyed dancing any chance he got.

He didn’t drive a fancy car. He didn’t dress in the newest styles. He was happy with his old car, a Geo Metro, and a flannel shirt and jeans were his usual attire.

Kanthack didn’t have a lot of close friends, but he certainly cared about the community where he spent his whole life. He was not the type of person who would have been identified as a wealthy man or a philanthropist, but the facts prove differently.

After Kanthack died on Dec. 20, 2012, the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM) was notified that he had named them as the beneficiary of his estate after other bequests and expenses were paid. While many might not think that’s newsworthy, it is.

CFNEM received $704,765 from Kanthack’s estate to create the Bernard Kanthack Endowment Fund.

The instructions he left were that the fund should be a permanent endowment and he wanted the money that would be available to spend each year to be evenly divided between five area agencies.

Those agencies include: Boys & Girls Club of Alpena; Huron Humane Society; St. Bernard Friendship Room; Alcona Health Centers, to assist their patients who are residents of Alpena with financial need and to help support their Wildcat Clinic; and Hospice of Michigan for their Alpena County Grief Committee.

Each of these five agencies will receive approximately $7,000 in October 2013 and a similar check every year thereafter forever. As the fund grows over time, through investment income or additional gifts from other donors, the amount of the distributions will continue to grow as well.

Kanthack chose Huron Humane Society as a beneficiary because, as he spent his last years at Turning Brook Retirement Village in Alpena, Huron Humane Society brought animals in to visit with the residents. He and the other residents looked forward to spending time with the animals.

He also ate many of his meals at St. Bernard Friendship Room because it felt like home to him. He wanted to support the youth of Alpena through the Boys & Girls Club and many families would benefit from a gift to Alcona Health Centers.

Finally, he had personal experience with the help that Hospice of Michigan could provide to individuals and families.

Kanthack is an example of a person who loved his community and chose to give back to it. Not everyone will leave an estate the size his, but everyone can make a choice to give something back to their community.