Recent News

November 09, 2018

A Surprise Gift to Dearborn County

If you do good work, people will notice.

Karen Snyder, director of United Way’s Southeastern Indiana area office, learned this recently when she received an unexpected letter.

It was from a representative from the estate of Wilbert Ruff, a man from St. Leon, Indiana in Dearborn County – one of the 10 counties served by United Way of Greater Cincinnati.


Ruff passed away in February of 2018 at the robust age of 100. Karen did not know Wilbert, which made the letter all the more intriguing.

In the letter, Karen learned that Mr. Ruff – who had not donated to United Way in the 11 years since Karen has been the director in Southeast Indiana – had left a gift to United Way in his will.

A gift in the amount of $50,000.

Karen was amazed and delighted that this man, who was essentially a stranger to her and United Way, would leave such a generous gift. She felt compelled to learn more about him.


Karen Snyder recently spoke about Mr. Ruff for this Q&A:

What do you know about Mr. Ruff?

Wilbert Ruff was a life-long resident of St. Leon and a devoted Cincinnati Reds Fan.  He was a traditional farmer all of his life, raising over 400 chickens up until the mid-1960’s, and then he switched to hogs and other products.

Did he donate to anyone else?

He was a humble man who lived very modestly. Upon his passing, he donated his earnings throughout Dearborn County. He started an agriculture scholarship fund in his and his brother’s name. He donated to the park, so a baseball field can be built for the local youth.

He gave to the local churches throughout the St Leon area and several nonprofits, with United Way being one of them.

Why did he choose United Way?

I was told he was not one for praise and recognition. He was kind and a very good man.

When I asked how things were chosen, Jeff (from Mr. Ruff’s estate) informed me Wilbert knew where he wanted his funds to be distributed and picked those organizations himself.

Mr. Ruff had never been a donor as long as I have been with United Way. It reinforces you never know who is paying attention to your work and that you always need to do a good job!

What was your reaction?

This was definitely an unexpected surprise for our Southeastern Indiana office to receive this gift. It will be put to good use in our community and help folks in the part of Dearborn County where Wilbert lived.

If you or a family member would like to include United Way in your will, please contact MaryAnn Remke at to discuss a number of planned giving options that help insure United Way’s future impact.