Pure altruism consists of sacrificing something for someone else with no expectation of any recognition for the act of giving.
Mr. Anonymous has left a big footprint on New London, Waupaca and Outagamie counties and many places beyond.
Without a fanfare, and mostly unknown to even his neighbors and friends, Stanley Cottrill for years devoted his time and shared his money to benefit people not only today, but in the future.
New London United Methodist Church recognized its long time Good Samaritan Sunday dedicating Cottrill Fellowship Hall.
Mayor Gary Henke also issued a proclamation of Stanley Cottrill Day.
Until Sunday his identity was a closely guarded secret.
Bill Barrington, who has assisted managing the foundation and distribution of grants, said the gifts announced Sunday were included in Cottrill’s will.
“It is time that he be recognized before his death,” Barrington said, of the 92-year-old Cottrill.
In all $2.5 million was granted, including the city, church and many organizations and service providers he has supported through the years.
“Only a few people knew how many things he did for the community,” said Bob Polaske, a peer, who worked together in the Historic Village at New London Memorial Park. One project, he said, was caulking the chinks in a log cabin donated to the village.
“Stan was generous in giving his time to the community. That is priceless,” Polaske said.
Even years after helping Waupaca County obtain the 40-acre Camp Vic-To-Rae property on the Little Wolf River in 1999, Cottrill’s role was unknown at his request.
“He made it possible to buy it,” said Roger Holman, county park administrator, who guarded Stan’s request to remain anonymous.
“Most of those on the county board did not know who funded the purchase. His donation covered the county’s match to attain a River Grant to secure the property. Without his support it would not have happened because the county did not have the money,” Holman said.
Holman said the picturesque site overlooking the river was prime property for private development. “Now it can be enjoyed by everybody,” he said.
“He was one of the most generous contributors,” said Christie Gonwa, in charge of fund raising to remodel the Washington School Building into a shared use Community and Senior Center by St. Joseph Residence and the city.
“He would be watering the flower garden in mornings when I would arrive at St. Joe,” she said. “He helped so many people . . . school children, families, anybody in need.”
“He is a special person,” Gonwa said, “one of the nicest, friendliest people I have met.”
Wayne Wilfuer got to know Stan while doing welding at Curwood for Cottrill’s Do-Right Plumbing. “A lot of people got their start under him,” he said.
Wilfuer and Bill and Gary Barrington made fishing trips with Stan to Canada and North Dakota.
“He didn’t like driving his big RV,” Wayne said. “He liked to sit back, talk and enjoy the ride.”
The RV also enabled Stan to use his skills in a program by United Methodist churches.
“He would travel to places where he was helping build homes and live in the mobile home,” Wayne said. “He was a member of Nomads.”
Nomads on a Mission Active in Divine Service travel to areas to work on churches, housing, camps, and colleges. Projects are divided into three week block and longer terms. They also assist in disaster rebuilding.
The name of Cottrill’s business is appropriate in describing his life. He lived it to “do right” in his community and with others.
We are all richer for his presence with us.