The Konnekers, Leading by Example

Have you ever played the game, “What would you do if you hit the lottery?” I’ve played the game a few times but never seriously. Never seriously because I rarely ever buy a lottery ticket. When I was teaching someone might come into the teacher’s lounge and mention the lottery being over $20 million. Someone else might suggest we all chip in and buy a ticket. I always tossed my share in and for the next few days we’d sit around playing the game.

In reality, if I, or my wife, were to ever buy a ticket and hit a major jackpot, let’s $100 million, We do have an answer to what we would do with the money. First we would hire a tax accountant and a lawyer to help make decisions. Secondly, we’d have the telephone disconnected and the mailbox dug up. Then we would set up trust accounts for our grandchildren’s futures. That would require deciding what number was enough to get them started in life but not enough to permit them never having to work. We’d be willing to line their lunch bucket with silver but not gold.

Following that we would pay off the debts of our children and give them some cushion to ease financial concerns. Again, not so much to guarantee them a free ride along life’s highway.

Okay, having taken care of family we would give some thought to taking care of us. That would be difficult because both of us are pretty content with what we have (probably one reason neither of us buy tickets). We have a feeling, however, that the pressure to relocate to where nobody knows your name would be strong. I’d probably buy a new boat, some four-wheel toys, and maybe a piece of land someplace where it was warm in February.

Having taken care of that, we would spend the remainder after the model established by one of my true heroes, Wilfred Konneker. Konneker, a graduate of McClain High School, where I was a student and spent 26 years of my teaching career. Konneker made a name for himself in business and amassed a little spending money. In turn he gave back to what he felt played a role in his success, McClain High and Ohio University.

Over the years Konneker and his wife, Ann, have helped build several buildings on the OU campus and in 1990 founded the Konneker Scholarships at McClain. I’ve long forgotten the prerequisites for candidates but each year a McClain graduating senior is awarded a fully funded four-year scholarship to Ohio University. The funding also provides for foreign study and other experiences during the summers.

I was a member of the faculty of McClain when the first award was granted in 1990 to Billy Doan. I vividly remember seeing Billy walk to the graduation stage to accept his award. Billy was crying, I was crying, and I’m betting most eyes in that gymnasium were just as filled with tears as our. I was overwhelmed with the generosity of the Konnekers and what it meant to the scholars of McClain High School. The Konnekers led by example and it is their example I would try to follow if I leaned my long-lost uncle Albert Chapman had croaked and named me sole heir to his huge fortune. Better odds of that happening than me winning the lottery.

Konneker Scholars 1990-2011

One thought on “The Konnekers, Leading by Example”

  1. Larry great article. The Konneker family have followed the path Mr. McClain started by providing the best educational experience for the youth of Greenfield. It would be nice to hear what some of the recipiants have done with their lives. Maybe someone can pass this information along. Thanks for the article. Ray

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