All about choices

WORTHINGTON -- The will was 30 years old, two of the listed organizations no longer existed, and the one that remained had changed its name, but that didn't stop Ann Pick from respecting the wishes of her godparents as the personal representative...

Receiving the check
Client Community Services, Inc. (CCSI) Board President Ken Moser holds the plaque commemorating a donation from the Saner Estate, Seated with him, left to right, is Ann Pick, personal representative of the estate, her daughter Julie Becker, and CCSI Executive Director Martin Rickers. (Justine Wettschreck/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- The will was 30 years old, two of the listed organizations no longer existed, and the one that remained had changed its name, but that didn't stop Ann Pick from respecting the wishes of her godparents as the personal representative of their estate. In the end, it was all about choices.

Monday morning, she and her daughter Julie Becker walked into the offices of Client Community Services, Inc. (CCSI) with a check for $82,349.98.

CCSI was one of three non-profit organizations to benefit from the generosity of Hank and Sophia Saner and their son Wilfred.

In October 2007, (CCSI) received a letter from a legal firm, informing executive director Martin Rickers that Sophia had left an endowment to CCSI. There was no indication of how much money was involved.

"We didn't know how much it was for until June of this year," Rickers said Monday. "We are honored they chose CCSI. It is quite a neat thing."


Sophia Broich grew up in the Wilmont and Adrian communities, married Hank Saner in 1929, and they farmed outside of Adrian for several years, where their son Wilfred was born. Hank worked for various companies in a variety of capacities. Sophie cooked for the Catholic Church in Adrian and worked at the Brentwood Egg Company for more than 18 years. During a high line incident, Hank's hand was burned so severely it had to be amputated. He did bridgework and was a farm hand until he died in 1974 of cancer.

Wilfred, who had been honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy before taking a job with the Minnesota Highway Department, stepped forward to take care of his mother until his death at age 77 in 2007. Just 18 days after Wilfred died, Sophie died at age 98.

"Hank was a farm hand, Wilfred worked for the highway department," Pick said. "These people were poor, but very frugal."

They chose to live frugally, and invest the money they had so it could go to charity. The 30-year-old will designated a split of approximately $250,000 between three entities -- one of which was the Crippled Children's School Inc., which later became CCSI.

"They really wanted to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate," Becker explained.

There are two nephews in the family with disabilities -- one with polio and the other developmentally challenged. Their parents were determined to raise the children to be independent adults, rather than putting them in institutions as some people recommended.

"They refused. They fought the down casting and the stigma," Becker said. "(The nephews) got to go down a different path."

Sophia and Wilfred were supportive of the decision, and some of that support literally went into the endowment to CCSI.


Since the other two entities the will named had closed doors, Pick talked to Sophia's only living sibling, Helen Spartz of Longville, about what Sophia would want.

"She said she would stand behind what ever decision I made," Pick said.

As the niece and goddaughter of Hank and Sophia, Pick was determined to do what they would have wanted. She looked for organizations with the same goals as the ones listed in the will.

One she chose was Birthright, which helps women who are faced with unplanned pregnancies.

The other organization Pick chose was the St. Francis House, a Sioux Falls, S.D., shelter for homeless people and families, where Becker is employed as the executive director.

Shortly after Wilfred died, Becker said she went to help clean out his apartment.

"On the table was a check made out to a homeless shelter," Becker said. "He died before he could deliver it. He was giving up to his last moment."

"If someone was down and out, you could call Wilfred and he would help out," Pick added.


The funds from the Saner estate will go into CCSI's endowment fund, Rickers told Pick and Becker.

CCSI Board President Ken Moser said the funds would be used to better facilities for consumers.

"Brick and mortar," he said. "Special needs equipment. Our consumers all deserve nice houses in nice communities."

"What Sophia did is allow people with disabilities to live in nicer houses," Rickers added, explaining that the interest from the fund is used to upgrade and maintain CCSI facilities. CCSI is able to help people with a wide range of disabilities, from those who need long term care to those who need just a bit of help.

"We're about giving people choices," Rickers stated.

As Pick listened to Moser and Rickers discuss CCSI, she seemed pleased with her choices.

"I know they are looking down and saying, 'Ann, you did a real good job,'" she remarked.

A plaque made in honor of the donation states appreciation to the Sophia Saner Estate for "having so generously given her life savings so that others could live improved lives."


It ends with a quote which Rickers said was very appropriate:

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."

"I really want Hank, Sophia and Wilfred to be recognized for what they did," Pick said as she held the plaque.

"Their memory will live on with us," Moser replied.

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