The impact of a legacy

A letter from Cat Comley Adams

In August of 2014, I walked into my office to find a very official looking, large white envelope on my desk. The return address indicated the materials were sent from a mid-Missouri trust company, and it was addressed specifically to my attention. I remember opening the envelope carefully even though I was anxious to see what was inside — I had a feeling it was going to be good. The lengthy documents inside indicated that University of Missouri Extension had been named a contingent beneficiary in the estate of Otto H. Hackman in tribute to Dale Schnarre, retired extension faculty member from Audrain County. This suggested that MU Extension would receive a donation if, and only if, Mr. Hackman’s heirs predeceased him.

My immediate reaction was to look for identifying information about Otto Hackman so I could properly thank him and his family for such a kind and generous gesture. But, as I read along, I learned that Mr. Hackman had already passed away, as had his heirs. This filled me with mixed emotions. I was deeply touched that this thoughtful family had gone to the trouble to craft such delicate plans for the benefit of extension in tribute to a very special faculty member, and also saddened that my opportunity to express my gratitude for their generosity was already gone.

In the subsequent months, I received multiple statements from the trust company from which I could estimate the expected distribution for extension. Based on what I knew, I determined that we could expect approximately $50,000 and began to plan accordingly. At the same time, the university legal team reviewed the estate documents to determine where the funds would be allocated when we received them. Because the language only specified University of Missouri Extension in tribute to Dale Schnarre, it was of utmost importance to me to do our best to decipher the intentions Mr. Hackman may have had for the gift.


It was concluded that an investment in the MU Extension statewide endowment would offer the greatest impact to the greatest number of Missouri citizens. And so, when the payment arrived at a surprising $120,000, the funds were immediately invested to elevate opportunities within extension for everyone.

As I cannot shake his hand and assure Mr. Hackman of the incredible legacy his generosity has built, I hope you will join me in sincere appreciation of his foresight. The future of extension is dependent on private contributions like this. Because of the Hackman family and other generous benefactors, extension is making powerful impacts on the lives of Missourians.

Cat Comley Adams
Director of Advancement
MU Extension