Supporting their community has always been important to Rich and Kathy Wehking.
Rich and Kathy met during homecoming in 1972. It was Kathy’s first year teaching in Hector and Rich, an alumnus and college football player, was giving the coronation address. Rich went away to college at University of Minnesota, Crookston but jokes about how he ended up just 50 feet from where he started on the family farm. Kathy grew up in Winthrop and attended Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter.
Together, Rich and Kathy have tackled marriage, farming and careers. They have two grown children and consider their tight-knit family their greatest accomplishment.
“We’re living in a good place to raise up a family. It can’t be beat,” Rich said. They believe in the importance of supporting their neighbors and community so strongly that it’s a part of their estate plan.
“There are lots of ways to give when you’re this age,” Rich said, “a lot of great causes.” Giving was part of their upbringing. Kathy recalls a local man supported her parents’ business when she was young. Rich’s mother and stepfather left a portion of their estate to charity.
Rich and Kathy learned about Southwest Initiative Foundation from their financial advisor. They liked the variety of work to support communities, from early childhood to business development, and knowing the organization was well-established. “They’re doing the research, they know the need. I really trust Southwest Initiative Foundation,” Rich said.
Together with their advisor and Southwest Initiative Foundation staff, Rich and Kathy created a Charitable Remainder Trust. They make tax-deductible contributions to it, often through a gift of grain, and receive income from it during their lifetime. Upon passing, the remainder will establish a memorial fund at SWIF, creating a permanent legacy for their family that supports charitable causes important to them.
“You see how big the world is, how great the needs are,” Kathy said. “We’ve been blessed with a simple life. I can’t fix everything that happens…we can do little things.”
Rich served on the school and co-op boards, and Kathy on the library and Play Island preschool boards. They’re active in church, raised money for the community pool and have hosted students through a University of Minnesota agriculture training program.
Kathy currently serves on the Southwest Initiative Foundation Board of Directors and our Development Committee. A retired teacher, Kathy taught elementary students at Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart for 18 years. She also served as the Early Childhood Family Education Coordinator and a mentor teacher and co-center director at Tri-Valley Migrant Head Start in Bird Island. Kathy’s philosophy as an educator was to strengthen her students’ desire to keep learning and to build their ability to be resourceful and inventive long after they left her classroom. She’s been inspired by SWIF’s Grow Our Own initiative to close the opportunity gap that aligns so closely with her personal commitment to kids’ futures.
“We do have a lot to offer here,” Kathy said. “We have good people. We have resources. It takes a strong community to raise good people.”
Their giving plans help ensure southwest Minnesota will stay a strong community and a great place for families. “It feels good to help other people out,” Rich said. “If you’ve been blessed, you should give—you should share.”