Every once in a while, we unexpectedly meet that one person who changes the way we look at the world and helps shape our understanding of life. For many, that person was Andy Hilger.
Andy died this past year at 83, leaving behind an immeasurable legacy because of the many connections he made.
Andy is recognized as a long-time pillar in the community and one of the original founders of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and the United Way of Central Minnesota. Andy and his wife Carol were among the first individuals to establish a fund at the Community Foundation and serve as an example of connecting passions with charitable giving.
Andy was honored with many awards for his deep-rooted commitment to giving back, including the Alex Didier Award in Philanthropy in 1999 from CMCF. “I didn’t really know Andy on a personal level until I visited with him about the award,” CMCF President Steve Joul remembers. “In a very personal discussion about his values and his mission of giving back to the community, he talked about the annual spiritual grounding he received through silent retreats he did at the Jesuit retreat house, near the Twin Cities.
It was then he said, ‘You should come along.’“ Steve accepted the invitation. “To know and understand these retreats is to know and understand Andy,” Steve said.
In a quiet and reflective setting, the Jesuits help retreat participants focus on hearing the voice of God in their own lives and discovering the gifts they’ve been given. They believe developing and sharing these gifts is what life is all about.
“Andy certainly knew and understood the wonderful gifts he had been given,” Steve said. Andy had a deep passion for radio and built a successful business in the industry. He remained philanthropic throughout his career and even donated one of his stations, Spirit 92.9, to the Diocese of St. Cloud. Even after he sold his radio stations to Regent Broadcasting and retired, he launched an all-Catholic AM station, KYES.
“He used his gifts as long as he was able,” Steve said. “Our community is a better place thanks to Andy Hilger.”