Morrison library receives $394,000 from estate of longtime residents

Sauk Valley College Foundation also given large financial gift from Stan and Ruth Mitick Trust

Tom Pons (center) of Erie, presented a check from the trust of his late aunt and uncle, Stan and Ruth Mitick, to Dr. Lori Cortez, left, Suzanne Ravlin, Mary Pons, and Dr. David Hellmich.

MORRISON – Two organizations have been given large donations from the estate of a longtime Morrison couple.

Morrison officials on Monday accepted a $394,000 donation from the Stan and Ruth Mitick Trust to be given to Odell Public Library. Then on Tuesday, the Sauk Valley College Foundation announced it also had received a gift from the Mitick Trust. While college officials declined to comment on the amount of the gift – saying the amount could not be disclosed based on the terms of the gift agreement – they did say it is the fourth-largest, one-time gift the foundation has received in its 64 years.

Both Odell Library’s board of directors and the SVCF board of directors can use the funds at their discretion.

“I’ve learned that Stan and Ruth Mitick lived humble lives so they could invest in their community and education, which changes the trajectory of generations of families,” Lori Cortez, SVCC’s vice president of advancement, said when making the announcement. “I cannot think of a better way to live one’s life. Stan and Ruth have made an impact on their community, in perpetuity.”

The Sauk Valley College Foundation Board of Directors will meet in April to determine how to best use the funds to continue the Miticks’ legacy. The SVCF is on its first ever multiyear multimillion dollar campaign to fund the earned-tuition Impact Program, whereby students earn a full scholarship to Sauk Valley Community College by volunteering in high school. To date, more than 1,000 students have registered for the Impact Program and those students have completed more than 30,000 hours of community service in the past 22 months.

Odell Public Library is located at 307 S. Madison St., in Morrison.

Morrison City Administrator Brian Melton said the money comes at a good time for Morrison’s library. Over the past few years, the library has completed major projects, including a roofing project, new flooring and carpet, a new boiler and a new air conditioning project, which will begin this summer. Those projects have had a big impact on its budget, he said.

A Morrison couple, the Miticks were known for their civic involvement. Stanley, a U.S. Air Force veteran, was a pilot during World War II. He served with the 9th U.S. Air Force, 344th Bomb Group in the European Theater. After the war ended, he volunteered to spend a year participating in the military occupation of Germany. He left active duty in 1946 and attended the University of Colorado, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering, according to his obituary.

He married Ruth Bealer of Morrison on Aug. 27, 1948, in Denver, after the two met at the University of Colorado. He continued active participation as a reserve officer with the U.S Air Force, retiring in 1972 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. He was employed with the General Electric Co. in Morrison for more than 43 years in various engineering and engineering management positions, retiring from full-time employment in 1993. However, he continued to work an additional 19 years for GE doing engineering work on a part-time basis until February 2012, for a total of 62 years employment at GE in Morrison.

He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Morrison and was active in several civic organizations. He served 21 years on the Morrison Community Hospital Board, 12 of them as president of the board during the modernization and expansion program of the 1970s and early 1980s. He was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Reserve Officers Association, the Military Officers Association of America, and the 9th Air Force Association.

Stan died in December 2020 at age 97.

Ruth was born in March 1926 in Sterling. She was raised in Morrison, graduated from Morrison High School in 1944 and went on to college at the University of Colorado, graduating in 1948, according to her obituary. Ruth had a long career in the teaching profession spanning some 38 years, the last 23 as a teacher at Challand Middle School in Sterling.

Starting as a girls physical education teacher, she later taught remedial reading and finally taught as a prescriptive teacher, helping students who had trouble with specific subjects and other problems that hindered their education. She earned a master’s degree in guidance and counseling and at some time during her career, volunteered her services to tutor jail inmates in reading. Retiring in 1988, she continued with volunteer work for many community projects. She also helped to preserve Morrison’s heritage, including Morrison’s last historic buildings.

Ruth died in August 2021 at age 95.

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema

Charlene Bielema is the editor of Sauk Valley Media.