Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation Receives Largest Gift in Its History

The children of the late Kevin Cooley present a gift from his estate to members of the HNGF Board of Directors. Pictured from the left are Michael Cooley, Alexis Cooley, Heather Cooley Libby, Ned Kiser, Bob Keith, and Paul Brock.

By Ned Kiser, special to the Breeze

Through the foresight and generosity of the late mayor of Lake Lure, Kevin Cooley, the Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation (HNGF) received the largest single gift in its history in early July—a gift totaling nearly $80,000!

Kevin Cooley’s deep love for and devotion to Lake Lure and the Hickory Nut Gorge was well known and was manifested in many ways through volunteer service on numerous committees and boards (including the HNGF Board), through personal investment in strategic property development in the community, and through his very capable service as mayor of Lake Lure. During his lifetime, Kevin was a stellar example of someone who knew that small rural communities (like Lake Lure and the surrounding area) only prosper when its citizens step up, step in, and serve for the greater good of the area.

But Kevin’s perspective on benefitting the community went even beyond his life on this earth. Kevin recognized the incredible difference a viable community foundation can make in the present and future of a small-town area. As noted above, Kevin served as a member of the Board of Directors of HNGF, and in characteristic fashion, backed up that service with exemplary action. Kevin made a provision in his estate plan that HNGF would receive a percentage of his final estate after his passing.

Of course, we all know that Kevin’s passing came much too soon. But even in this unexpected circumstance, Kevin’s forward thinking, love for the Gorge, and generous heart have been actualized by a wonderful provision for the future of our community through a major gift to the Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation. The HNGF Board wishes to express its deepest gratitude to Kevin and the Cooley family for this tremendous investment.

The HNGF Board also greatly appreciates all of the dear friends here in the Gorge who invest regularly in our local community foundation through one-time gifts or regular systematic giving (e.g., our “Legacy Leaders” who give at least $250 per year).

However, as Kevin’s planned estate gift demonstrates, most of us will make the largest charitable gifts of our lives at the end of our lives. And it is these major investments in the HNGF endowment fund that will allow the Foundation to substantially grow its assets most quickly and thereby substantially increase the endowment proceeds that can be reinvested in our community area.

The Gorge is a unique community that all who live here love and enjoy. Many of us have come here from elsewhere because of the beauty and serenity of this place.  However, this being the case, the reality for many is that, as we near the end of our lives, we may end up moving away from the Gorge to be closer to family.

But all of us who call the Gorge home have a responsibility to those who come after us to leave this lovely community a little bit better than we found it. So the HNGF Board asks each family in our area to please follow Kevin Cooley’s example and make a provision for the Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation in your estate plan.  In so doing, you will help to ensure that the Gorge community will continue to thrive even after we are gone.

Please check out the new HNGF website—www.HNGFoundation.org—and click on “DONATE” for information on making an investment in the future of our community through the Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation. Thank you.

Ned J. Kiser is an independent consultant who lives in Lake Lure.  He currently serves as vice-president of the Hickory Nut Gorge Foundation.

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