SALINE COUNTY -- When Col. William C. Hise provided funding to create the Ella Elizabeth Hise Museum of Regional Art along with an operational endowment, Southeastern Illinois College accepted its largest estate gift ever of $3 million.
Just recently, upon Hise's passing, SIC President Dr. Jonah Rice and the college's board of trustees learned that nearly the entirety of his estate, valued at more than $5 million, would be coming to the college. There are key restrictions on the use of funds.
"Col. Hise was a remarkable man -- a true visionary who believed in the mission of SIC," Rice said.
Hise grew up in Omaha and Harrisburg with his twin brother. Both served careers in the military, earning their law degrees, and also forming many business partnerships along the way. Neither married.
Dr. Pat York, chairman of the SIC Board of Trustees, was both saddened by the passing yet elated at the news of the colonel's gifts.
"He will be missed by all of us as he was a good friend who was dedicated to the betterment of this area," York said.
Funds have various purposes outlined by the donor as the estate may take up to two years to finally settle, so the college will not see proceeds for at least 24 months or perhaps a bit longer.
"This gift couldn't have come at a more perfect time for the college," SIC trustee David Dennison said.
"With state funding shrinking and our population in southern Illinois declining, these private funds from the colonel will leave a legacy that will help SIC and students for decades in the future," trustee Blake Bradley added.
The Hise estate gift -- when combined with the colonel's previous gift -- should total more than $8 million to SIC, one of the largest gifts to a community college in the state of Illinois.
"This type of gift is huge, a once-in-a-lifetime gift for a rural college," SIC trustee Richard Morgan said. "We are so thankful for the colonel's contribution."
Rice said he would miss the friendship of the colonel.
"He was briefed on what was going on at the college at all times. We shared a lot of dialogue, and he really impressed upon me that hard work and exceptional results are to be expected -- qualities that made him so successful," Rice said.
SIC Foundation Chair Brian Surprenant said the colonel was extremely supportive of the college and the steady leadership that ultimately led to great trust and mutual respect.
"The foundation will be a wise steward of the colonel's gift. He deserves that commitment," Surprenant said.