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Woman bequeathed $140K to fire department

The amount is more than 8 times the annual budget and will likely go to buying a new fire truck

The Associated Press

DAKOTA, MINN. — A southeastern Minnesota fire chief was left speechless when a neighbor bequeathed $140,000 to his department, an amount that's eight times the city's annual firefighting budget and perhaps enough to buy a new fire truck with the benefactor's name on it.

The money was left by Eleanor Sanford, who died in September at age 99. The amount marks the biggest donation by far for the Fire Department in Dakota, a Mississippi River city with a population of 323 that's 18 miles southeast of Winona.

"We can't thank her enough," said Fire Chief Scott Hoeg, Sanford's former neighbor. He said he only wished the department could have thanked her in person.

The money will likely be used to buy a new fire truck, city clerk Lana Gerlach said. Hoeg said if that happens, Sanford's name is going on the front of it.

"She'd like that," Gerlach said.

Shortly after Sanford died, Gerlach was told that money had been left to the department. She was under the impression it would be $10,000, according to a Winona Daily News report, so when she and Hoeg saw the actual amount, they were stunned.

"Neither one of us could even talk," she said.

Sanford's caretaker, Marilyn Hurt, said Sanford's final act of generosity was entirely in keeping with her giving nature.

Longtime friend Mary Larson said Sanford always thought highly of firefighters and the hard work they do. She remembered Sanford as "just so thoughtful of others."

Sanford also donated a piano to the local Methodist Church and gave $1,000 to the Dakota First Responders Squad.

Associated PressCopyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

The $140,000 donation appears to be the largest amount received by any fire department in the area. Officials in Lewiston, 15 miles west of Winona, say the biggest donation they could remember was $15,000. The Winona Fire Department once received about $5,000.




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Tom Kelly Tom Kelly Saturday, November 24, 2012 1:55:34 PM wow what an awesome gift.
Barry V Keaveny Barry V Keaveny Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:13:27 PM wow that is great.I take it is a vol dept.
Jim Bair Jim Bair Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:32:08 PM Boy, could our fire company use that, as many others do to. You just never know in your community who will set up!
Craig Eckrode Craig Eckrode Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:32:22 PM wow nice!
Christina Jones Christina Jones Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:41:32 PM She is wonderful. I think mote people should donate to first responders since they kindly put their life on the line every day.
Laurie DiRusso-Schwerk Laurie DiRusso-Schwerk Sunday, November 25, 2012 12:53:47 PM OMG, that is Fantastic! Most people forget about the Firefighters and Ambulance personnel!
Christopher J Mc Intyre Christopher J Mc Intyre Sunday, November 25, 2012 1:12:54 PM WOW THAT's IS TOTALLY AWSOME A NEW RIG SHE MUST HAVE CARED A LOT FOR THE FFS INTHE COMMUITY THAT DONATOIN WILL REALLY COME IN HANDY.
LeRoy Johnson LeRoy Johnson Sunday, November 25, 2012 1:59:04 PM US FIREFIGHTERS NEVER EXPECT ANYTHING, OUR PAYMENT IS WHEN WE SAVE A HOUSE, OR A LIFE, WHAT AN AWESOME GIFT, AND A HONOR, TRULY AWESOME, GOD HAS A SPECIAL PLACE FOR HER I AM SURE.
Daniel M. Schaefer Daniel M. Schaefer Sunday, November 25, 2012 3:24:05 PM how nice was that.
Gary Marchlewicz Gary Marchlewicz Sunday, November 25, 2012 6:28:35 PM Awesome!
New Sharon Fire & Rescue New Sharon Fire & Rescue Tuesday, November 27, 2012 11:33:09 AM Great way to give back to a small community.

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