NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Henry Gunther Schmitt never forgot the life-saving help he and his family got from Mennonites in war-time – and more than 70 years later, he left a legacy of generosity to Mennonite institutions, including Bethel College.
Schmitt, of San Bernardino, Calif., died Aug. 2, 2010. He remembered Bethel and other schools, as well as charitable organizations, in his will.
Schmitt was born in Java, Indonesia, in 1931. During World War II, his father and grandfather were taken prisoner and subsequently lost their lives. The rest of the family escaped and received help from various Mennonite church agencies.
Schmitt came to the United States as a young man and put himself through medical school. During his career, he worked in pharmacology, internal medicine and radiology.
He never forgot his experiences during the war, and he gave generously of his resources to others as a way of saying “thank you” to those who had helped his family.
Estate gifts are important to ensure a college’s future viability, noted Bethel College President Perry White. “The mid-six-figure gift which Bethel has received from Dr. Schmitt’s estates will be of significant help in funding improvements to the campus,” he said.
The college is currently seeking gifts to make improvements to Thresher Gymnasium, Schultz Student Center, the Fine Arts Center and student housing.
“We are grateful to Dr. Schmitt,” President White continued, “for remembering Bethel College and for understanding the important role estate gifts can play in the life of a college.”