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A gift from Gwen
March 17, 2014

Delano woman leaves $92,000 to Delano Senior Center in her will

By Ryan Gueningsman
Managing Editor

DELANO, MN – A woman who loved life and lived hers to the fullest left a significant gift to a place she spent many hours – the Delano Senior Center.

Delano resident and former teacher Gwen Kitock passed away Dec. 6 of last year at the age of 81. Following her death, one of her wishes, to contribute financially to the Delano Senior Center, became public.

“She felt so strongly about preserving what the Delano Senior Center has built and also moving the center forward for years to come that, unbeknownst to us, years ago she set up a fund with Ameriprise designating all the proceeds to go toward the Delano Senior Center,” Director Gail Sinkel told the Delano City Council March 4.

At the time of Kittock’s death, the fund added up to approximately $92,000.

“It is with deep emotion and in remembrance of Gwen Kittock that we ask the council to receive and accept this gift to be put in the ‘Gwen Kittock Senior Center Fund,’ to be used for future senior center projects,” Sinkel told the council.

An advisory board has been established to assist in reviewing and advising on how this fund is to be used, but Kittock was very adamant the money is to be used for senior center projects only, Sinkel said.

“We are extremely grateful for this gift and want to make sure we use it to leave a legacy for Gwen, and even build upon this gift to ensure the future of the senior center as it continues to grow and change to accommodate senior services for years to come,” Sinkel said.

Kevin Max of Ameriprise, who had served as Kittock’s financial advisor for 29 years, reiterated how important it was to Kittock for these dollars to go toward senior center projects.

Max said, a lot of times, people will change their beneficiaries over the years, but Kittock’s commitment to the senior center never wavered.

The advisory group, which consists of Sinkel, Max, Joan Kittok, Pete Kittok, Kay Gabriel, Ted May, Jo Schulte, Linda Van Lith, and Delano Finance Director Brian Bloch, has met several times and provided recommendations to the council for Kittock’s contribution.

The council established the Gwen Kittock Senior Center Fund to hold the proceeds of the donation, and account for future receipts and disbursements of the funds.

The council also agreed to reinvest $80,000 with Ameriprise Financial in a safe investment, allowed by state statute, to maximize the return on investment, according to Bloch.

The remaining $12,000 has been deposited in the city’s general checking account, being kept track of through the city’s ledger by means of a line item for the “Gwen Kittock Senior Center Fund,” Bloch added.

At the recommendation of the advisory board, these funds will be used for the purchase of tracking/management software to better enable the center to track the users of the center, according to Sinkel. This will allow the center to get a better idea of what programs are being utilized and by whom, and where the center should be directing more of it resources.

A senior center redesign will also be completed, which will make the center more functional for the programs it offers, she added.

The development of future programming for the center will also be pursued with the contribution from Kittock. For future initiatives with the funds, no less than five members of the advisory board will have to agree to make a recommendation to the city council.

“I’m just floored with the generosity of this woman,” said acting mayor Betsy Stolfa, who said she did not know Kittock personally.

“You missed a lot of fun if you didn’t know her,” commented Council Member Jack Russek.

“We’ve all been a little emotional over this,” Sinkel added. “All of us who knew her miss her very much.”

A Wisconsin native, Kittock retired from teaching after more than 40 years within the Robbinsdale School District. She began volunteering in the Delano community upon her retirement, Sinkel said. Her husband, Leonard, preceded her in death. Kittock was also an active member of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.

“One of her passions was the Delano Senior Center,” she added.

Kittock served on the senior center advisory board and was also on the building committee for the new city hall/senior center building, helping to raise $575,000 for the new facility.

Kittock was also an avid traveler, whether it be touring the world (she traveled to Europe 22 times), or going on “pretty much every trip the senior center planned on our 14-passenger bus,” Sinkel said.

“She believed in what the center does – serving seniors and touching people’s lives,” Sinkel said. “Gwen loved life, and obviously, she loved the senior center.”

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