Two new endowments established by Ingrid Thacker and Deanna House will not only provide a lasting legacy for their husbands but also support the maintenance and long-term care of Kettunen Center facilities and grounds, and help sustain 4-H educational programs at Kettunen Center. Pictured above are the participants at the 4-H Mentoring Weekend at Kettunen Center July 22-24, 2016.

Endowments: Creating a Legacy in Memory of Loved Ones



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Kettunen Center, Michigan 4-H’s volunteer and youth development training facility, was fortunate enough to have two new endowment funds created this past year to support the maintenance and long term care of Kettunen Center facilities and its adjacent grounds. Support from these funds can also be used to sustain 4-H educational programs there.

An endowment is a fund that is permanently restricted – the corpus of the fund is invested and held intact, and the earnings from the fund are used for program support. Endowments provide a dependable and perpetual source of funding that, combined with other annual support, assures that 4-H opportunities are always available for youth.

These newly established endowment funds will not only support Kettunen Center in perpetuity, but will also serve as permanent memorials.

The Francis H. and Ingrid E. Thacker Endowment for Kettunen Center was created in memory of Francis Thacker by his wife, Ingrid Thacker, in appreciation for the positive influence of 4-H in Francis’ life.
“4-H was really the beginning of his life,” Ingrid Thacker said. “He was able to spend time with his brother. Those years really played a big role in their lives. It is really a good thing for kids to go through 4-H.”

Francis was a 4-H member and took great pride in his 4-H achievements. He went on to manage the family farm and was very involved with community affairs. He served as the LeRoy Township supervisor and for 25 years was an Osceola County commissioner. Additionally, he served 26 years on the Lake Osceola Soil Conservation District and over 20 years as a member of the LeRoy Historical Society. He was a lifelong member of the United Methodist Church in LeRoy until his passing in July 2014.

The George E. and Deanna J. House Endowment Fund for Kettunen Center was created in memory of George House by his wife, Deanna House, and their children, Sara and Paul, to recognize their family’s long-term involvement with 4-H as members, volunteers and donors.

“This fund honors George’s belief in 4-H and his long-term service on the board,” Deanna House said. “It was a good way to remember him long-term – it is also a good cause. “

4-H camps and centers like Kettunen Center are fading. They need to have support to keep them up-to-date,” she said.“This way, the funds from the endowment can be used as those in charge feel it’s needed well into the future.”

George and Deanna House both grew up as 4-H members in Illinois and Wisconsin. They went to college in Wisconsin, George at the University of Wisconsin and Deanna at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. After they married and moved to Michigan, they became highly valued Michigan 4-H volunteers, first in Kalamazoo County and then statewide.

George joined the Michigan 4-H Foundation Board of Trustees in 1979 and served on the board until 2009. In his 30 years as a trustee, he served as president, vice president and treasurer of the board. He believed in the power of dedicated facilities to foster positive youth development. He helped lead the $4.3 million campaign to renovate Kettunen Center, and also helped generate support for the facilities campaign for 4-H Camp Kidwell in Allegan County.

Deanna is well known as a nutrition and healthy foods columnist, author, consultant, speaker and 4-H volunteer. She helped young people see the value in healthy eating and cooking, and helped them develop the skills to do so successfully. When microwave cooking was introduced as a fast way to prepare meals, Deanna helped young people navigate this new technology by co-authoring the 4-H curriculum Microwave Connections.

“4-H shaped my life,” Deanna House said. “We both felt that we should be paying back, and youth are one of the things we believe in. This was a great fit.”

The Houses have been generous annual donors to 4-H for over three decades. In 2006, they also established the Founder’s Fund, an operational endowment for the Michigan 4-H Foundation, which promises to pay dividends of support for 4-H for many years to come.