Good things continue to happen for the New Richland Area Foundation Fund.

It started with an anonymous donation to the New Richland Area in 2008, the formation of the New Richland Area Foundation Fund in 2009, the anonymous donation of the “By-the-Grace-Of-God-Fund” in 2010 and the Gift of Grain in 2011 — overwhelming progress in such a short time for a small community like New Richland.

It seems that success has spilled over into 2012.

Early in February, Gail Schmidt, the NRAFF Representative of the Waseca Area Foundation, received a telephone call inviting her to attend a meeting with the attorney and estate representative of a New Richland resident who recently passed away. The news that she received left her speechless.

How many small towns can say they had a resident was born in England a little over 100 years ago, became a world wide traveler while serving his country, worked for the Border Patrol, met John, Robert and Ted Kennedy, President Johnson, President Carter, was married to a beautiful lady (Esther) whose picture was used on Land O’ Lakes products and ended up retiring and making his home in a small town with a population of 1200?

New Richland can.

The resident’s name was Donald Hamilton. Don, as people knew him, passed away January 30 at the age of 100. Preceding his death, he made his wishes very clear and one of them was that he would leave a gift of $320,000 to the New Richland Area Foundation Fund. His wish was that this gift would continue to give back to the New Richland area for many years to come.

Connie Field, who helped care for Hamilton at Country Neighbors in New Richland, describes her friend as a quiet, private and distinguished gentleman.

“He had a wealth of stories to tell of his life and yet felt he was just an ordinary person with an ordinary life story,” said Field.

He enjoyed driving his 1998 Cadillac well into his 99th year and walked four miles a day up until a few years ago. Don was also an avid reader. Being aware of his passion for reading has sparked ideas of some type of memorial in his name, possibly in the new home of the New Richland Library.

After retirement, Hamilton and his late wife — who is from the area — decided to settle here.

“I feel like this gift in particular comes from the examples set by the “By-The-Grace-Of-God” Fund and the Gift Of Grain that we have been blessed with the past two years,” said Schmidt. “Those gifts were instrumental in not only getting the newly formed NRAFF public exposure to what it is all about, but also what it is able to do with these gifts through grants as well. Each and every gift the Foundation receives, whether they are large or small gifts, are all equally appreciated and play an important part in building the fund.  This gift, along with other gifts, will touch many lives in the coming years. I will speak on behalf of our whole Grants Committee when I say Don can rest assured that his gift will be used wisely in order to make a difference in the New Richland area for many years to come.”

Schmidt’s view on this whole journey is that all gifts the NRAFF receives are really all about the generosity of people and their passion for the New Richland area. She considers that to be the driving force behind the foundation’s success.

“New Richland may be a small town, but we are a close-knit and caring town and very fortunate and honored that Don Hamilton chose New Richland as his home. We are very grateful for his gift.” said Schmidt.

The NRAFF Grants Committee, at their last meeting, came up with this powerful saying: “Any Gifts Of Any Size Can Have A Positive Impact On People’s Lives.”