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Norfolk man leaves $40,000 to Northeast for nursing scholarships

Norfolk man leaves $40,000 to Northeast for nursing scholarships

NORFOLK, Neb. – A love for nursing and a desire to help young people prompted a Norfolk man to include a nursing scholarship at Northeast Community College in his estate planning.

Mahlon “Jack” Kohler passed away in Sept. 2021, at the age of 96. In his will, he left $40,000 to Northeast for nursing and optometry scholarships. It has been placed in an endowment and will provide assistance for nursing students into perpetuity. 

Before graduating high school, Kohler was called to duty by the United States Navy in 1943. After basic training at Farragut, Idaho, he was sent to the Pacific Theatre where he was stationed at Guadalcanal, New Guinea, Russell, and Amerilites Islands. He then returned to the Brooklyn, New York Naval Base in 1945. Kohler received an honorable discharge on May 6, 1946.

After his discharge from the Navy, he moved back to Norfolk and worked for American Optical Company for 33 years. Kohler was recognized as a World War II Honorary Sentinel in front of over 86,000 fans at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln during a Cornhusker football game just after celebrating his 95th birthday. 

“Jack lived in the Norfolk area for many years and was always fond education,” said his stepson, Ronald Kotrous. “He decided to choose nursing (for his benevolence) because of the people. In the last few years, they were really good to Jack and to my mom, so they wanted to give back to that community.”

“Endowed scholarships are a great way to create a legacy,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, vice president of development and external affairs at Northeast and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “The principal of an endowment is invested, and scholarships are paid from the earnings.”

Kruse encourages others to consider Northeast Community College in their estate planning. 

“Planned giving provides an opportunity to make a large gift while still caring for your loved ones,” she said. “An estate gift is probably the largest charitable donation you will ever make, and the best opportunity to leave a lasting legacy.” 

“We sincerely appreciate this gift from Mr. Kohler,” Kruse said, “and will remember him each time we present the Mahlon B. Kohler Scholarship.”
Endowed scholarships at Northeast create a permanent fund in which contributions are invested to ensure the scholarship retains its value in perpetuity. Scholarships are awarded from the interest accrued while the principal is never touched. A minimum of $25,000 is required to set up an endowed scholarship at Northeast Community College, and that amount can be paid over a five-year period. Furthermore, annual scholarships are awarded to students on a yearly basis. A minimum amount is required to establish a scholarship in the donor’s name(s). 

For more information on setting up an endowed or annual scholarship at Northeast Community College, visit the Foundation Office or call (402) 844-7240.