Blacksmith leaves $3.5M for student scholarships

Jan 15th, 2009 | By | Category: Campus News, Issue, January 15, 2009

A lifelong resident of Gresham, Neb., has provided a $3.5 million gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to create scholarships for students. Walter Schmitt, a blacksmith, died in January 2008. As the sole beneficiary of Schmitt’s estate, the foundation received $2 million in September 2008 and another $1.5 million by the end of the year. It is one of the largest estate gifts the foundation has ever received for scholarships.

“Walter never went to college, but he loved to learn,” said Cindi Heiden of York, a friend and personal representative for Schmitt’s estate. “He read constantly and paid close attention to the political world, agriculture, history and finances. He told me he chose the University of Nebraska Foundation as his beneficiary because of his passion for education.”

Schmitt specified that his gift be permanently endowed, which means the $3.5 million will be invested and the net income available each year for scholarships. Scholarships awarded from the Schmitt Scholarship Fund will be available to students this fall. It is estimated that about $170,000 will be available annually to help NU students.

Schmitt, who never married and whose closest living relatives are in Germany, also requested that his body be donated to science.

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