A Legacy for Good

Merle and Mary Santjer are proud parents.

In their son Matthew’s childhood room, medals still hang proudly on display, far too many to count, right next to trophies and old team photos. Matthew was diagnosed with autism at age two, and according to Mary, it was his passion for sports that led him to find and lead a happy, healthy life.

 “I truly think the sports programs opened the world to him,” she says with a big smile. “Today, he owns his own home and car. He’s happy and healthy and we’re thankful.”

Naturally, when the Santjers were updating their estate plan, Matthew was on their mind.

“There was a moment when my son taught the kids on his team, ‘I’m human’,” says Merle. “I may have a disability, but inside the word disability is another word. That’s ability. So, when we worked with the Community Foundation to update our estate plan, we wanted to make sure that organizations that supported Matthew and brought him to that point could continue on after we passed away and that those funds would be used in a proper manner.”  

As a financial advisor at The Friedman Group, Merle saw the benefits of working with the Community Foundation as a way to simplify their estate plan. Wanting to show their children and grandchildren the importance of a lifetime of giving, Merle and Mary decided to make a bequest to the Foundation to support causes that impacted their entire family, and their son Matthew.

Today, the Santjers are also hard at work fundraising for the Miracle League Baseball Field of Dubuque. A passion of Matthew’s former coach Tom Witry, Miracle League is a local effort to create an all-inclusive baseball field and playground. Merle, Mary and the Miracle League board of directors worked with the Foundation to establish a project fund to support their fundraising efforts. The Foundation handles the gift accounting and acknowledgements—giving them more time to support all the causes they love.

 “Know that your gift, whether it’s time or talent or treasure makes a positive impact on other people,” says Mary. “It moves you to give as much as you can.”

To learn more about leaving a bequest to the Community Foundation, visit www.dbqfoundation.org/legacy or call us at 563.588.2700.

This story was featured in Giving Matters Spring 2018

Press Contact

Jeff Danna
Communications Manager

About Us
Founded in 2002, the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque strengthens communities and inspires giving. We are dedicated to improving the quality of life throughout Northeast Iowa by serving donors, making grants to local nonprofit organizations, and providing community leadership through convening and collaboration. Guided by the values of integrity, equity and inclusion, collaboration, excellence and innovation, we seek to ensure a vibrant and inclusive Greater Dubuque region with resources and opportunity for all.