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Stories of Giving

People making a difference in the lives of others today and for generations to come. What will be your story?

Violet Laack’s dedication to teaching lives on

It’s just an outstanding way to enable people to give back to their community.

Violet Laack dedicated herself to her students during a 49-year teaching career and then, in retirement, served as a substitute teacher into her 80s.

Even her death Jan. 28, 2014, at age 97 didn’t stop her from supporting education. Most of a $1.2 million gift she left to our Chilton Area Community Foundation family of funds will help “high-achieving graduating seniors” from six high schools in Calumet County to attend colleges and universities in her name and that of her late husband, Ruben.

An endowment, the Violet and Ruben Laack Memorial Scholarship Fund, will initially award a $3,000 scholarship annually to one graduate each from the Brillion, Chilton, Hilbert, New Holstein, Stockbridge and Kiel high schools from investment gains. The principal will remain to generate scholarships perpetually.

“She was dedicated to teaching,” Jan Keuer, one of Violet’s nieces, said.

Violet started in a one-room schoolhouse, teaching in Reedsville, Brillion and Kiel in Calumet County over her long career.

Ruben, who died in 2001 at age 84, was an award-winning cheesemaker and owner of Laack Cheese Co. in Potter. Violet kept the books. They sold the business in 1987, but Ruben continued to work there into his mid-70s. Both were community-oriented – members of several service organizations and quick to volunteer.

A portion of Violet’s estate gift established a second endowment, the Violet and Ruben Laack Memorial Fund, to support educational, library, speech, forensics and theater programs in the Chilton area.

Reading was a passion for Violet.

“She always said she could teach a rock to read,” Jeff Dvorachek, her advisor from Hawkins Ash CPAs in Manitowoc, said.

No one meeting Violet and Ruben would have thought they would have an estate that large, Dvorachek said. The couple’s simple pleasures included casino bus trips and time away at their cottage on the bay near Brussels. They did splurge on a trip around the globe when they retired.

Dvorachek described Violet as a generous person who was very child-oriented, even though she and Ruben had none of their own. She also was very interested and involved in the couple’s investments.

“They were always good savers, obviously, but she was also engaged in investing,” Dvorachek said.

Violet learned from her attorney, Kim Rietbrock of Twohig, Rietbrock and Schneider in Chilton, that a charitable fund at the Community Foundation is a way to effectively make favorite causes in your community your heirs.

“It’s just an outstanding way to enable people to give back to their community.” said Rietbrock, who serves on the board of the Chilton Area Community Foundation. “Her students and her role as a teacher were important to her.”

Violet’s gift to the community pleases her niece.

“I am just overwhelmed,” Jan said. “It makes me proud.”

With the scholarships being awarded annually, she said, “Their names will live on for a long time.”