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Jerry Gillett Remembers Rippey and Grand Junction 1983

Jefferson Herald March 24, 1983 Jerry Gillett estate aids Grand Junction, Rippey By Bev Lehman The late Jerry Gillett lived out his life on a farm east of Rippey. He never married. When he drew up a new will in 1978 he chose to leave his estate to non-profit organizations in two Greene county towns, Grand Junction and Rippey.

Jefferson Herald March 24, 1983

Jerry Gillett estate aids Grand Junction, Rippey
By Bev Lehman
The late Jerry Gillett lived out his life on a farm east of Rippey. He never married. When he drew up a new will in 1978 he chose to leave his estate to non-profit organizations in two Greene county towns, Grand Junction and Rippey.

Along with the money, as often happens, came controversy. Differences of opinion surrounded the management and expenditure of the funds both in Rippey and Grand Junction — exactly the opposite of what Gillett might have, wished.
Gradually the differences in opinion are being smoothed out, compromises are being reached and the money is being spent.

One thing the recipients have no trouble agreeing on is that they are very happy to have the legacies.

The estate totaled more than $660,000. The first bequest was 10 percent to the city of Grand Junction to be used for “equipping, maintaining and operating its rescue and emergency ambulance service." Leon Frantz, Grand Junction mayor, reported that the city has received three payments, the last in July of 1982, totaling $66,050. The city has allotted $40,000 to the Grand Junction fire and rescue organization for the purchase of a new rescue unit.
Reg Peterson, fire chief, said that the department is currently drawing up plans for a new rescue unit to replace the 1972 conversion unit currently in use. The new one will be roomier to work in, be better equipped and be more reliable than the 1972 van. They hope to have the customized unit on hand in time to celebrate the Grand Junction fire department's 100th anniversary this coming August.

Peterson had never met Gillett and Gillett had never used the rescue service, to Peterson's knowledge. Why he chose the fire and rescue service for such a bequest is a mystery to him, "But we're sure glad that he did it and we'll put the money to good use," said Peterson.

The second bequest, also for 10 percent, went to the Rippey library. Mrs Lyle Von Behren of Rippey, a former member of the library board, said that there was a trust fund established for the library and that to date, some money had been spent to purchase a copier, some to increase the reference department of the library, and some to pay the salary of a second .librarian, hired on a part-lime basis so they can now keep the library open every day. It was the controversy over the bequest that led her to resign from her long-time position on the library board. Her husband is mayor and that put her in the middle of the tug-of-war over the management of the fund.

As to why Gillett left money to the library, Mrs Von Behren said she didn't really know, but described Gillett as "a quiet man" who got his education through libraries He had an avid interest in electronics and frequently asked the library to order special books on inter-library loan in order to pursue his hobby.

Lyle Von Behren, Rippey mayor, described Gillett as "an electronic genius." When the estate was sold people came from far around to examine and buy items from his long-time collection of radios and radio equipment.

Having used the library so extensively, it is no surprise, then, that Gillett left another 20 percent of his estate to the Central Iowa Regional Library, the source of inter-library loans.

Not quite so easy to understand is the interest that Gillett showed in senior citizen housing. He lived in his own home until the time of his death, so he didn't make use of such housing himself He had shown an interest, though, according to Marlene Radebaugh, head of the Rippey senior citizen housing board.


When Rippey first began its fund drive to build apartments for senior citizens, Gillett was not at home and wasn't contacted. He later heard about the drive and came to Radebaugh with his donation.

His will specified that 40 percent of his estate go to the Rippey Senior Citizen Housing Corporation and 20 percent to the Grand Junction corporation. Rippey has nine apartments, financed on a Farmers Home Administration 50-year loan. The 40 percent came to about $264,000 and the corporation was able to pay off its loan (around $150,000) and have a healthy balance now drawing interest and available for maintenance.

The Grand Junction corporation received about half that amount. It has 29 apartments in six units. It has put part of the bequest into an account for maintenance and repairs and will use the rest to reduce the loans for all buildings, said Virginia Robson, who does the bookkeeping for the corporation.
She, too. is puzzled by the bequest. She didn't know Gillett ("I never saw the man." shesaid) and didn't know why he chose to give 20 percent of his estate to the housing corporation.

But neither Robson nor Radebaugh held the least doubt about the acceptability of the gifts to the organizations they represent. "We're more than pleased to be able to pay off the facility and have it as our own," said Radebaugh.

What kind of a person would leave a fortune of two-thirds of a million dollars to organizations' And what kind of a person would leave more than two-thirds of that fortune to services he had never had need of.
According to those who were most closely associated with the making and carrying out of the will, he was a very private man.

Named as executor was Alvin Harten. his tenant farmer for 20 years When Harten passed away, his wife continued the executor duties. She declined to make any comment on either Gillett or his bequests, repeating only what others had said, that he was a very private man.

Robert C Reimers of Denison, the attorney who drew up the will, said that Gillett was a self-termed recluse.
As to why he chose the recipients that he did for the bequests, like the recipients Reimers could only speculate.
"His will was a litttile unusual." agreed the attorney, "because he was a little unusual himself."  For which the communities of Rippey and Grand Junction, despite the controversy that accompanied the bequests, have good reason to be grateful.