An Unexpected Gift


July 9, 2018 By: Tina Mortimer Category: SHH News

Marie "Mary" Erickson lived a vibrant, yet, simple life. She worked at a publishing company for many years, where she met her husband, Robert, and although they never had children, she doted on her young nieces and nephews. She loved to cook, volunteer at her church, and take care of her family. Mary lived frugally in the same house for most of her life until she downsized to a small townhouse.

When Mary passed away in 2016, she left behind 25 nieces and nephews and their families, many of whom she had nurtured and entertained her entire life. But that’s not all. She also left a generous estate gift to Second Harvest Heartland in the sum of nearly $1 million dollars. For those who knew Mary, the gift was not surprising. One of Mary’s nieces, Penny Fastner, recalls that Mary was as giving with her love and time as she was with her material possessions.

“She was such a generous soul,” Fastner said. “When she downsized her house and moved into a townhome, she gave away most of her furniture. That’s just the type of thing she’d do. But she never felt the need to tell anyone, and she never talked about money.”

Fastner said she believes that when her aunt planned her will, she was very intentional. “Mary thought child hunger was a disgrace,” she said. “She always said that with all the power and resources we have access to in America, the fact that we can’t feed our own children is terrible. It upset her very much.”

Fastner and Mary often discussed the problem of hunger when they were together. Fastner had a special relationship with her aunt, whom she said always treated her like her own child. However, as Mary got older, the roles reversed. Fastner took on more of the caregiver role, driving Mary to doctors’ appointments and the grocery store, and taking her out to lunch. Mary would always try to pay, but Fastner wouldn’t allow it.

“She was such a character, always joking around,” she said. “She was the life of every family party. Everyone who knew her, loved her.”

Even when she entered her eighties, she never lost her spritely demeanor and verve for life. That didn’t happen until she lost her beloved husband.

“After Robert passed away, she said she was very lonely and tired,” Fastner said. “It’s like a part of her died too, and all she wanted was to be with him again. I wasn’t ready for her to go, but I take comfort in knowing she lived a full life and her legacy will live on with this estate gift.”  

Define Your Legacy

You can secure your legacy in a most meaningful way by making a commitment to the long-term stability of Second Harvest Heartland and the people we serve.

Using bequests made through wills, revocable living trusts, appreciated stock, real estate, mutual funds, securities, life insurance and other giving options, you can ease the stress and worry of hunger for countless people well into the future. Learn more about all the ways you can help.


Enter this word:

Take action now. Donate Volunteer Participate