Mary Bierschbach

Faith sustained Claire and Mary Bierschbach through 40 years on their farm near Webster, S.D. They trusted in God in tough years when drought dried up their pastures and storms damaged crops. They stayed strong even when a series of extraordinarily wet years caused the nearby sloughs to swell, slowly overtaking their farm land and leaving much of it unfarmable. “We can’t guarantee what’s going to happen,” said Lois Bierschbach, of the uncertainties of farm life. That reality may be one reason the couple decided to take charge of their estate planning. 

They turned to the Catholic Community Foundation of Eastern South Dakota for assistance. In 1998, they crafted an estate plan that included a charitable annuity and an endowment to benefit many of their favorite causes. Proceeds from the sale of some of their land was used to create the annuity which provides a regular income throughout their lives and will fund an endowment after their death. The couple retired and moved from the farm to a home in Webster. Claire died in 2014. “The church was very important to them and still is to Mary,” said Catholic Community Foundation Gift Planning Specialist, Bette Theobald.

That devotion to the church is reflected in their choices for beneficiaries of their generosity. Their endowment will benefit their parish, Christ the King in Webster, St. Joseph Cathedral and seminarian education among other causes. The couple made adjustments to their investments through the years, adding new charities to the list of beneficiaries. Through the Bierschbachs’ generosity, they have set up six separate endowments which will benefit 13 ministries that were important to the couple, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Special Olympics, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Muscular Dystrophy Association. “Now with the creation of the endowments they remember these ministries permanently,” Theobald said.