Wilken knew the true meaning of generosity

— Granger man gives over $250K to local organizations, churches


Granger, Minn. - It’s hard to give the late Don Wilken a hometown. He was well-known in all the area burgs and had many friends in each of them. Anyone was happy to call him a friend.
His sudden passing on Feb. 28, at the age of 91, left a hole for many who knew him.
Duane Copeman, who was a friend since childhood, commented on many of Wilken’s attributes, including friendliness and generosity. So it came as no surprise to hear his old friend had been charitable in his death as well as life.
Many local non-profits on either side of the border were surprised to receive donations to their worthy causes after his will was read to the tune of over a quarter million dollars!
• $50,000 - St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Granger
• $10,000 - Bethel Lutheran Church, Rochester, in memory of his aunt, Sena Arneson
• $5,000 - Howard County Historical Society for maintenance of Florenceville Methodist Church
• $10,000 - Red Cross of Rochester
• $10,000 - Salvation Army of Winona
• $50,000 - City of Lime Springs for playground equipment, softball teams, swimming pool and library
• $20,000 City of Canton for playground equipment and softball teams
• $10,000 - Granger softball team
• $25,000 - Harmony Nursing Home
• $10,000 - Oak Hill Cemetery, Granger
• $10,000 - Harmony American Legion
• $10,000 - Preston VFW
• $10,000 - Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Lime Springs
• $1,000 - Rochester Disabled American Veterans
• $10,000 - St. Matthew’s Cemetery, Granger
• $7,500 - Henrytown, Minn. Lutheran Church Building Fund
• $7,500 - Henrytown Lutheran Church Cemetery Association
In addition, he gave a percentage of the remaining assets of his farm. Local organizations receiving funds were Harmony Area Foundation (44 percent); City of Harmony (10 percent); St. Matthew’s Cemetery Association (five percent); Saetersdal Cemetery Association (five percent); Fillmore County Food Shelf (three percent purchased from Harmony Foods; and Howard County Food Shelf (three percent, with two-thirds purchased from Fareway Foods and one-third from Dollar General).
He also bequeathed money to friends and family.
Wilken certainly spread the wealth among the many communities he called home. Copeman recalls, “He made the rounds. He’d have breakfast in Harmony then go to Preston, Cresco and Lime Springs for afternoon coffee. He had BS sessions in every place he went! When he went to church dinners, it would take him 20 minutes to eat and two hours to get out of there.”
Growing up, the two friends, who were a year apart, would go swimming every day in the river. 
Although Copeman said Wilken never played more than cow pasture ball, he did donate to local ball teams in Lime Springs, Canton and Granger.
Shortly before his death, Wilken won big on one of his usual Bingo Lottery tickets. “He thought he had won $3,000, when he turned it in at Casey’s in Lime Springs,” Copeman remembers. “When he was told it was $30,000, he had a grin so wide, his mouth about split open!”
Wilken did approach Lime Springs City Clerk Rhonda Klapperich after winning the Lottery, but did not have a chance to follow through on his intentions. Although in the long run, several entities in the town received donations from his will, which had been dated December 2015.
“He was generous and a giver all of his life,” Copeman noted. “That was his nature. He drove a beat up pickup. He could have bought a new one, but he gave his money away.”
The humble, church-going bachelor lived a simple life and showed his true spirit throughout his life and death. 
Copeman is not the only one who says, “He was a good guy. He’ll be missed.” All who knew Wilken and all who will benefit from his generosity in the future can say the same thing.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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