FAIRMONT - Doris Virgens was 95 years old when her sister and lifelong housemate Rosine got sick and had to go to the local hospital.
The care her sister received from the nurses at Mayo Clinic Health System in her last days made an impression on Virgens, according to her attorney, John Edman.
After Virgens died in 2012 at the age of 97, her will revealed just how much it meant to her. Edman presented two local organizations with estate gifts from Virgens on Friday morning - $425,000 for FCH Foundation and $425,000 for Presentation College.
PAPERWORK?— Shelly Krahmer, second from left, president of the FCH Foundation; Dr. Pat Fahey Bacon, second from right, director of nursing program at Presentation College; and Traci Lardy, director of Presentation College’s Fairmont Campus, sign paperwork Friday accepting the estate donation of Doris Virgens, while attorney John Edman looks on.
Edman said Virgens lived a humble life, sharing her home with her sister.
"They lived a conservative life just off Blue Earth Avenue," Edmund said.
When Rosine died, Virgens began to consider what she would like done with her estate, since neither of the two had children. Edman said she wanted to donate her estate to a local organization, for local use. He gave her a list of organizations to consider, and she thought long and hard about it.
"She called me one day and said she was ready," he said. "She said nursing students really have a hard time financially because they are busy with their school work, especially third-year students."
The observation surprised Edman, who said he didn't believe Virgens had any personal connection to any nurses or nursing students - outside her experience taking her sister to Mayo near the end of her life.
"I think that is where it first started," he said. "Sometimes you don't realize how little things make a difference to people. People must have treated her nice. It made a big impression on her."
Dr. Pat Fahey Bacon, director of the nursing program at Presentation College's Fairmont campus, is moved by the kindness Virgens must have experienced at the hands of nurses.
"It touches me that the nurses touched her," she said.
The estate gifts were given with no restriction, other than a request that the funds stay in the area and help the nursing program at Presentation.
Shelly Krahmer, president of FCH?Foundation, said the gift will be added to the group's endowment fund.
"Her gift will go on forever," she noted.
Presentation College, Fairmont campus, director Traci Lardy said the funds are Presentation's first estate gift, and the college is in the process of deciding how it will best be used.
Edman acknowledged he was surprised when Virgens chose Presentation College, a relatively new organization in the area.
"We are still new," Lardy said. "A lot of people don't know we have a 501(c)3 (non-profit) status. We hope people will realize it does help us."
Krahmer and Lardy recognized the connection between the organizations listed on the will.
"We train the nurses," said Lardy, "and [they] employ them."
"This is an incredible gift that between the organizations we can really honor," Krahmer added.