SWIC Foundation receives more than $350,000 in donations

The foundation at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville announced Wednesday that it received gifts of more than $350,000.

The estate gifts were from the Dale and Martha Gustus Charitable Trust and the Harold Leroy “Lee” Houser estate, according to a news release.

“The generous gifts from Mr. Houser and the Gustus Trust will significantly aid the SWIC Foundation as it helps students achieve their academic goals and build a successful future,” foundation executive director Haley Thompson said in a news release. “On behalf of our current and all future students, we sincerely thank Lee Houser and Martha and Dale Gustus for believing in our mission and investing in the power of education.”

Dale and Martha Gustus, who met during World War II and married in 1945, didn’t have any children, but their nephew Jim Eddins serves as trustee of their trust.

“Martha and Dale were not blessed with children of their own, but they were parents to many,” Eddins said in a news release. “They also felt that they have been very blessed, and in 1995, when they did their estate planning, they decided that the local community college was a project that warranted a portion of their estate when they passed.”

Dale Gustus died in 1997, and Martha Gustus died 19 years later, in 2016.

Houser, who died in 2016 at age 77, was active in his community. He was a supporter of the band program at Belleville East High School and served on the Belleville News-Democrat’s Advisory Board, according to his obituary.

He worked for Sears, Roebuck and Co. as a department manager and served 29 years in the U.S. Army Reserves.

SWIC Foundation’s scholarship program awards more than $250,000 annually through scholarships, the news release states.

Jamie Forsythe: 618-239-2562, @BND_JForsythe