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A Forever Gift to Worth County: A "Sister" Recounts a Loving Family and Their Legacy

September 10, 2019

It all started with a horse, according to Pat Muehl.

When Pat was 14, she wanted to do what most teens do, buy a car when she turned 16. She had saved $500 with that idea in mind, but her mother, who Pat said feared she might flee once she had transportation, redirected her to fulfill her dream of owning a horse. Enter the Jaspers family.

With nowhere to keep her new equine purchase, Pat rode her bike to the home of Maynard and Marjorie "Marj" Jaspers on the edge of town. Having never met the family before, she knocked on the door and discussed the potential of boarding her horse on their property, which Marj agreed to. Pat's horse had a home.

"I was out there morning, noon, and night," said Pat. "It didn't take long and [the Jaspers] had this extra person that just almost moved in."

Maynard and Marj Jaspers were business owners, founding Jaspers Motor and Implement in 1948, and active members of the community. The couple had three sons, the oldest were twins, Ron and Don, and Brad was the youngest. It didn't take long before the family had taken Pat in as their own.

"They referred to me as their daughter and the boys referred to me as their sister, and so we've had a lifelong friendship," said Pat. "They got the daughter they never had. I got a wonderful family."

Maynard passed away in 1993 and Marj died in 2012, leaving the estate to Ron and Don, with a special needs trust in Brad's name. Unfortunately, Ron passed away in 2013, leaving Don as the sole executor.

During this time, Pat stayed in close touch with Don to help him through this difficult time in his life and helped him settle his parents' estate, becoming an advisor and confidant. Don had worked for his father and lived at home, allowing him to adopt the modest lifestyle of his parents.

"I talked to Donnie knowing that his family was pretty much gone. His will left everything to his brother who was now gone, so I asked him, 'What do you want to do with your assets?" said Pat.

After thoughtful conversation, Don decided he wanted to make sure organizations serving Worth County benefited from the hard work of his parents.

"That's where they had spent their lives. We talked about what his charitable desires were. He knew he only wanted the income off of the principal used, and that way he knew it would go on forever," said Pat of one of her many conversations with Don. "And I said, 'Donnie, you have just created a legacy for your parents and yourself that will never die.' He took a great deal of pride in that and knowing that he would leave this earth a better place than what he found."

Shortly after these conversations, in 2015, Don passed away from pancreatic cancer, but the Jaspers Family Fund established with the Worth County Community Foundation, an affiliate of CFNEIA, has left a legacy for his family and the community they loved.

The Worth County Community Foundation granted $25,750 to organizations during its first grant cycle in 2018. Applications for the 2019 cycle are currently being accepted until September 30.

"Donnie would be very proud to see that what he started in motion is happening," said Pat. "They were such great people. It's neat to see no one will ever forget them. They may not always know the story, but they will know that Jaspers family is here."