Family Forest Blog

Leaving a Lasting Legacy

Mary Lou Jay

April 25, 2022

Lake-park-bridge-cross-lake-surrounded-with-trees

People who are passionate about giving back to their communities—who contribute their time, talents and money to make the world a better place—often want to ensure that they can continue to make a difference even after they are gone. That was the case with Dianne Komminsk, a lifelong resident of Ohio who died in 2019. Her estate’s generous gift to the American Forest Foundation’s legacy giving program The Seedling Society, will help fund critically important climate change and conservation work.

Although Komminsk had no relationship with AFF during her lifetime, she loved planting trees and caring for them on her property outside of New Bremen, Ohio, according to Bill Wente, a longtime friend and one of the executors of her estate. Komminsk enjoyed walking in the woods and watching the deer and other wildlife that lived in and around them. She was a staunch advocate for the environment, supporting the preservation of land and water resources and wildlife habitats. That commitment to nature was reflected in her will, which directed that her estate’s executors make contributions to groups that work to support those causes.

“Komminsk’s commitment to the environment and the natural world was evident during her lifetime and in her will. A significant portion of her estate was donated to charities that supported these causes, including the generous donation to the American Forest Foundation.”

In order to fulfill their responsibilities, Wente and the other executors began screening various conservation and environmental organizations as possible beneficiaries. They narrowed the search down by checking each group’s ratings on Charity Navigator. AFF has earned a five-star, 96.4% overall rating and a “Give with Confidence” designation.

“We were then contacted by the trustees of her estate, who had a lot of questions about our programming and about the work that we would do with the donation,” explained Beth Riley, AFF’s director of philanthropy. “Then we began to hone in on some of our programming that would relate most closely to the things that Dianne was passionate about. We eventually landed on the white oak restoration work and our Family Forest Carbon Program as areas that would be the most closely aligned with Dianne’s wishes.”

Riley said the white oak work would have resonated with Komminsk because Ohio is an area where the tree grows very well. “The Family Forest Carbon Program is a really compelling vision for AFF’s climate work and for where we’re going in the future,” she added.

“Because AFF had its planned giving program, The Seedling Society, already in place, we were able to have these offerings available to the executors and were able to talk to them about the work her gift would enable us to do,” Riley said.

A Lifetime of Giving

Dianne Komminsk was born and raised in New Bremen, Ohio, the only child of Paul Lewis and Betty Komminsk. She graduated from Duke University in 1966 with degrees in political science, economics and history.

Like her parents, Komminsk was successful in business and active in her community. She founded Micro Fotofile (a microfiche scanning company) and served as director of the American Budget Company for 27 years. From 1997 to 2000, she served as president of the First National Bank in New Bremen, which had been established by her family in 1932. She served on the Board of Directors at the bank for 30 years and was its chair for 20 years.

Like her parents, Komminsk was successful in business and active in her community. She founded Micro Fotofile (a microfiche scanning company) and served as director of the American Budget Company for 27 years. From 1997 to 2000, she served as president of the First National Bank in New Bremen, which had been established by her family in 1932. She served on the Board of Directors at the bank for 30 years and was its chair for 20 years.

Dianne Komminsk (donor, Planned Giving)

Komminsk loved art. She was active in the Dayton Art Institute, serving as a Board member and on many of its committees. She was deeply involved in her New Bremen community, and supported the library, schools, police department and life squad.

She took great pleasure in creating and building Komminsk Legacy Park, which she saw as a memorial to her family and the love they had for New Bremen.

Komminsk’s commitment to the environment and the natural world was evident during her lifetime and in her will. A significant portion of her estate was donated to charities that supported these causes, including the generous donation to the American Forest Foundation.

A Long-Lasting Impact

Jameson French, president and CEO of Northland Forest Products Inc. and AFF’s Board chair, appreciates the trustees’ choice of the Seedling Society for Komminsk’s legacy donation. “It’s very validating to us that AFF’s work, our messaging and our innovative projects around non-industrial and small landowners, forests and ecosystem services have inspired this kind of support.”

Komminsk’s gift will make a difference now and in the future.

“Our forests yield benefits like clean air and water that are essential to life for us all. I am excited and grateful that more of us who are not forest owners recognize and support the vital contributions that well-managed forests make to our lives,” added Tom Beall, who supported the establishment of the Seedling Society as AFF Board chair in 2019. “Donors like Dianne Komminsk help AFF and its partners deliver the environmental, health and economic benefits that forests provide. As donors, we can find satisfaction in choosing to invest in helping AFF expand efforts to address conservation challenges that impact all of us.”

“Family forest owners have a critical opportunity right now—we are finally seeing recognition for the important role that they can play in addressing issues like climate change. To have donors like Dianne who believed in the value of our important climate and biodiversity work and want to ensure that future generations will have the important environment which family forest owners make possible for us everyday, is really humbling and inspiring to me,” said Rita Hite.

AFF will recognize Komminsk and her gift at the annual Seedling Society gathering in April. She will also be listed among The Seedling Society donors at AFF’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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