Manistee Community Receives Estate Gift Of $15 Million From Philanthropist

"We had no idea about the magnitude of this incredible gift."

A generous gift from this man, benefiting an entire community, was the wake-up-call to many Wednesday morning.

His foundation donating $15 million to Manistee County.

Community agencies woke up to discover that a philanthropist left them $15 million.

The county’s schools and recreational services will benefit.

9&10’s Cody Boyer and photojournalist Jeff Blakeman checked in with the people helped by this enormous gift.

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The estate gift comes from Forest R. Minger Jr., a former Dow Chemical chemist.

His passion for the Manistee area inspired him to leave it millions.

“I don’t think we will even be able to measure the impact,” says Kenny Cott, executive director of the Manistee Recreation Association.

It’s a message the Manistee County Community Foundation (MCCF) was stunned to wake up to.

“This is a remarkable gift. It truly is,” says Laura Heintzelman, president/CEO of the MCCF. “He wanted to direct $2 million of that to the scholarship fund and the additional $13 million of that to a fund that would broadly support recreation and recreational opportunities in Manistee County."

Andy Huber, Manistee Middle-High School principal, says this will open the doors for more student scholarships.

“I woke up to the same news as everybody else,” Huber says. “That’s a lot of money. We know it is going to impact a lot of students in our county. We look forward to working with the foundation to really see how we can best serve that to our students."

The Manistee Recreation Association says this will be a tremendous help toward improving parks and recreational facilities.

“A lot of our facilities, like the baseball field behind us, the city has done a really good job to take care of but they could always be upgraded,” Cott says. “Fencing, different backstop aspects. Dugouts. The possibilities are endless."

…All from a man who wants to watch the community he loves grow.

“We’re humbled to live in a community where somebody thought so much of this that they wanted to give us these opportunities for our youth,” Huber says.

“We’re incredibly grateful and unbelievably excited about the impact that this gift will have," Heintzelman says.

The Manistee County Community Foundation is working out a strategic plan for Minger’s gift to give it the maximum possible impact.

They expect guidelines for a grant-making plan to be announced in early 2018.

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