A Lesson in Legacy: Two couples leave behind a heartfelt gift

Four lives have transformed into one legacy, positively impacting the Fox Valley for generations. Gussie Balck and Mary Leske were sisters, and, with their husbands George Balck and Arthur Leske, lived peacefully in the Fox Valley, all working at area paper mills. Combining this stable income with good saving and investing skills, the two couples grew their estates to a combined $1.9 million. Since neither couple had close relatives, they decided to entrust their inheritance to a close character in their lives – the Fox Valley community.

Arthur and Mary passed away in the 2000s, while George had passed in 1983 and Gussie died in 2012. Before they died, they established four important causes important to sisters Gussie and Mary. They wanted their savings to support the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Visiting Nurses Association and animal rescue charities.

In particular, the investment in the American Heart Association is making a huge impact in the Fox Valley. Recently, the couples’ charitable trust, the George & Gussie Balck and Arthur & Mary Leske Charitable Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, funded 100 CPR Anytime Kits to community organizations and members through the Healthy for Good sponsorship.

The Community Foundation will take part in American Heart Association – Wisconsin’s 2019 Fox Cities Heart and Stroke Walk on Saturday, September 28 at Fox Valley Technical College. The annual event raises thousands of dollars for local research and educational programs.

When someone collapses from cardiac arrest, their chance of survival goes down 10 percent with each passing minute that CPR isn’t performed. But the more people trained in Hands-Only CPR, the more potential lifesavers there are in our community who can jump in and save that person’s life. We are so grateful to Gussie, Mary, George and Arthur for their commitment to the American Heart Association. We are proud to carry out their wishes and share their legacy with the next generation.

The CPR Anytime Kit makes it possible for anyone to learn basic lifesaving skills in 20 minutes. The kit is portable, which means you can learn at home, work or school and share the kit with family, friends and colleagues. One kit can train hundreds in CPR.

Some of the organizations that received a CPR Anytime Kit include the Boys & Girls Club of the Fox Valley, Goodwill NCW, The Community Blood Center, St. Joseph food program, Chilton Optimists Club, Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce, The Kaukauna Library, Waupaca community, Peace United Church of Christ in Shawano, Bonduel School District, Safe Haven of Shawano County, local Boy Scout troops and the Clintonville Public School District. These kits will be used among students, residents and volunteers, who will learn about Hands-Only CPR, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and other first aid skills. For more information on learning CPR, please visit www.cpr.heart.org.

The American Heart Association is also hosting the 2019 Fox Cities Heart and Stroke Walk on September 28th at Fox Valley Technical College. We’ll see several of our Community Foundation friends there because of the Healthy for Good sponsorship. Help continue to spread the mission of a world of stronger lives by walking or joining a team. For more information, please visit www.foxcitiesheartwalk.org or email me at kelli.vanderwielen@heart.org.