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NOTEBOOK – Largest private donation to House of Mercy extends back to couple’s 1982 gift


MercyOne Foundation President Shannon Cofield told me an interesting story about the former Des Moines couple, Joseph and Dorothy Schuster, whose estate has funded a significant expansion of mental health counseling services for House of Mercy. 

The $492,000 donation from the couple’s estate — the single largest private donation to House of Mercy, actually extends back to 1982, Cofield told me. That year, the couple donated a piece of property at Sixth and Euclid avenues to Mercy. The proceeds from Mercy’s subsequent sale of the property were put into a charitable remainder annuity trust, the remainder of which the estate recently donated to House of Mercy. Dorothy passed away last year at the age of 96.
“I had never met the Schusters, but we’ve had conversations with their family,” Cofield said. “The Schusters were a very strong Catholic family, and they were very close to Sister Claire [Sullivan] when she was president of Mercy.” 
Cofield noted that a plaque she has seen at House of Mercy recognizes Dorothy’s many earlier contributions to the organization, because of her own struggle in raising five children on her own. 

Dorothy had been friends with Joseph and his first wife, Cofield said. “When Joseph’s first wife was close to passing, he asked Dorothy to take care of Joe.” 

Now, through the family’s kindness, the Schusters are still caring for House of Mercy. 

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