Orchardists leave $600,000 to HR foundation, OSU Extension

Gift will provide scholarships, research for local entities

Two Hood River County entities received surprise financial windfalls from a local estate last month. The Hood River County Education Foundation and the Hood River County OSU Extension were each the recipient of nearly $300,000 from the estate of longtime Hood River Valley residents Horace and Ruth Daum.

Horace died in 1995 and Ruth died in 2001.

“This is twice the amount of anything we’ve received in the past,” said Mike Schend, president of the Hood River County Education Foundation, which provides college scholarships to local high school students. The Daums specified in their will the manner in which they wanted the money for each organization spent. For the Education Foundation, the Daums wished to establish scholarships in music, nursing and science. The Foundation’s board decided to establish the Daum scholarships for local students already in college pursuing degrees in those fields. The amount of the scholarships won’t be determined until next year, but Schend expects them to be a minimum of $2,500 each.

At the Extension, the longtime orchardists wanted to provide money for research on Bosc pears and other pear varieties as well as other commercial crops in the Hood River Valley.

“(The Daums’) farm had one of the first plantings of Bosc pears in the valley,” said Clark Seavert, superintendent of the OSU Mid-Columbia Agriculture Research and Extension Center. Seavert said a 1½ to 2 acre research “block” planted with Bosc pears will be created near the OSU Extension’s Experiment Station where research will be conducted on water management, minimizing pesticide use and crop profitability.

“This is a sizable sum,” Seavert said. “It’s going to be sustainable enough so we can do research and do it right.” Both the Extension and the Education Foundation will spend only the interest on the investments so the money will continue to benefit both organizations — and, by extension, local people — in perpetuity.

The money came as a surprise to both organization’s directors. Before her death, Ruth Daum had asked Seavert to provide her with information about leaving money to the OSU Extension, but that’s the last he heard about it until getting a phone call from the estate administrator. Schend was acquainted with Ruth Daum but had no idea she planned to leave money to the Education Foundation.

“You don’t expect this kind of thing locally,” Schend said. “It’s nice that somebody has thought that well in advance about their money and how it can affect other people.”

The Daums moved to the Hood River Valley from Seattle in 1965 and purchased a pear orchard on the Westside near the Hood River. They worked the orchard until Horace’s health began failing shortly before his death, at which time the orchard was leased. Ruth continued to live in their large farm house until her death.

“(The Daums) deserve recognition,” said Schend, who hopes the couple’s generous donation will encourage others to think of local non-profit organizations when doing their estate planning.

“They’ve kept it local,” he said. “It’s fantastic.”

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