A dear member of the Center for Rural Affairs staff, Hank Rohling, passed away unexpectedly on October 24, 2014. In his two years at the Center, Hank crisscrossed the country visiting with Center donors in nearly every state.
Since his passing, many of you have written to share your memories of visiting with him. One Center supporter wrote, “Hank visited our home, and we had such rich conversation. Hank was so real, and it was wonderful to have the Center reach into our home.”
Another wrote, “We are saddened to learn of Hank’s passing. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have chatted with him. He was so congenial and a bit folksy, which I admire.
“He expressed appreciation of our interest in the Center.”
In countless correspondences, you told the same story again and again. Hank understood the issues you care about, and he connected with each person he had the opportunity to visit.
It is, therefore, even more remarkable to remember that Hank came to rural and small-town issues late in life. He had spent most of his life in suburban Chicago before moving to Lyons, Nebraska. Knowing a social justice cause when he saw it, Hank took to the work and values of the Center with ease and with passion.
Early in his tenure at the Center, he borrowed nearly every book I own on small towns and family farms – books on history, philosophy, and economics. He was a vociferous reader, returning a stack of books to me when he returned from each trip.
Each time, he would casually say, if I had more, I could bring him those too. It is not an exaggeration to say that Hank read books from my bookshelf that even I have not yet read.
Hank had developed the Center’s new land legacy program It is an innovative new program to steward farmland, steward the Center, and help the next generation of farmers get a foothold.
Interested donors will have the ability to donate farmland to our Granary Foundation. The program will help beginners gain access to farmland, promote the land and community ethic at the core of the Center, and return revenue to support the Center.
It is a win, win, win – for donors interested in securing their legacy, for beginning farmers, and for the long-term sustainability of the Center.
To capture and honor a piece of Hank’s contribution to the cause of justice and opportunity in rural America, we will name the initiative the Hank Rohling Land Legacy Program.
Please get in touch to share your own memories of visiting with Hank, share your condolences with his family and friends, or if you have any questions about the Hank Rohling Land Legacy Program.
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