February 07, 2015

Dying veteran donates his home to Habitat for Humanity so another veteran's family can move in

After 38 years in his Maple Grove home the time has come for Bob Karlstrand. Everything he owns, from toys and books to home appliances and furniture has to go.
"Most of the things I can remember having. Maybe some pictures I'll keep but in the end it's only material things," he said
The end has been on his mind a lot. A battle with colon cancer and a terminal lung disease makes a man think about the 65 years he's had and the 66th he's not sure he'll see.
"I've had a good life so I can't complain at all," Bob said.
Bob was an only child, who never married and never had children. So he's been giving his things away as he prepares to die.
"I had people come in and just take what they wanted," he said.
Most of his possessions are gone. Even the living room carpet has been stripped. Soon his home will be someone else's too. Bob decided earlier this fall that when he dies he wants to give his home to Susan Haigh and her team at Habitat for Humanity.
"It's a real legacy for a family and we're really grateful," Haigh said.
Habitat for Humanity will rehab the home and help a new family move in. The one requirement Bob has is that the home go to a veteran, just like him. Bob served his country in Vietnam coordinating B-52 bombers.
"I wanted to give back to the veterans if I could," Bob said.
But Bob's generosity doesn't end there.
A few months ago Connie White Delaney, dean of the University of Minnesota's nursing school, got a surprise visit.
"The school receives many gifts. This one is just deeply touching," White Delaney said.
Bob, a graduate of the U's business school returned to donate his retirement fund to the nursing program.
"If I can help a little bit that will be good," Bob said.
His little donation was a $1 million endowment. But he's not bragging.
"Over the years I've been very fortunate to know a lot of nurses. Well, maybe not so fortunate to know a lot of nurses," Bob said.
His donation provided six scholarships this year and more to come. He won't meet all the students he's helping but that doesn't matter to him.
"The fact that I know they are going to be helped is good enough for me," he said.
Bob may not make it to 66 but his generosity guarantees he will make a difference.
Habitat for Humanity estimates it will cost about $30,000 to rehab Bob's home. If you'd like to donate to help cover the costs or volunteer on another Habitat project going on right now, visit their website.

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