Teachers make a difference in communities every day. But few leave a legacy like Viola Ausherman.
It was her initial $400,000 gift that helped launch the Willmar Area Community Foundation in 1998. The retired teacher described her donation to set up the first fund as “just a little help.”
At the Foundation, we saw it as something so much greater. It served as the spark that ignited a new giving vehicle in the community that allows donors like Vi to leave a local legacy. Today, the Willmar Area Community Foundation has more than $6.5 million in a variety of funds.
We paid tribute to Vi in November 2011. She died at the age of 96 on Nov. 27, 2011 at Glen Oaks Care Center in New London. Her fund at the Willmar Area Community Foundation has distributed more than $200,000 in grants since its inception and will continue to support Vi’s charities for many years to come.
“Vi was modest, but she believed in giving back in big ways,” said Steve Joul, president of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation. “She was particularly passionate about animals and was instrumental in starting the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County.”
Vi was a founding member of the Humane Society of Kandiyohi County and provided significant support for more than 30 years. She served as the lead donor for the capital campaign for Willmar's Hawk Creek Shelter that was built in 2009.
She also supported the veterinary technology program at Ridgewater College and provided the seed money to establish a local spay-neuter fund for low-income pet owners.
Vi taught in Rothsay, Granite Falls, Detroit Lakes and Atwater before joining the elementary staff in Willmar, where she taught primary grades for 15 years. In 1954, she married Dr. Lewis Ausherman (Doc). They lived in Willmar and at George Lake until Doc's death in 1989.