A Legacy of Love for Community
Ted and Diana Strait are deeply rooted in the Maquoketa community. From the Rotary and Optimist Clubs to fundraising for the Community Cupboard, the couple is involved in many different aspects of civic life. Early this year, they decided to start the Ted and Diana Strait Legacy Fund at the Community Foundation of Jackson County.
When it comes to making things happen in Maquoketa, the Straits are a duo you need at the table. They both serve on the committee that organizes the annual community Thanksgiving dinner, which feeds over 200 guests. Ted is the manager for the Maquoketa Farmers Market, and he initiated a voucher program so that each family that passes through the line at the Maquoketa Community Cupboard receives a $5 coupon to be redeemed for any fresh food product at the market. Diana has started multiple fiber arts groups in the region, and Ted is a board member for the Maquoketa Art Experience.
Their passion for Maquoketa reflects their Iowa roots, but neither is originally from the community they love. Both were born in Iowa yet spent over two decades living and working on the East Coast. Upon deciding to retire to the Midwest, they began subscribing to small-town newspapers. “We learned there was a lot of development going on here. The Ohnward Fine Arts Center had been built, the library had virtually doubled in size, and the Hurstville Interpretive Center had been built,” said Ted. “At the time we moved here they were fundraising for what is now the YMCA, so it really looked like positive things were happening.”
What started with a simple newspaper subscription has had a broad ripple effect on the community. At the weekly market Ted manages, local nonprofits can raise funds by serving hot meals and typically dish out 125 to 175 a week. Recently, one nonprofit used the dollars raised at two of those fundraisers to send a veteran on an Honor Flight.
The Straits’ impact won’t stop there — it will continue long after they’re gone. Proceeds from their estate will pass into their endowment fund, which will pay out annually to benefit 10 area nonprofits, forever.
“We are very glad we moved here. It’s a welcoming community, and it’s absolutely our home,” says the couple. “It’s the best way we can think of to say thank you.”
To make a contribution to your Jackson County community, contact Mary Jo Gothard, executive director for the Community Foundation of Jackson County.