Inez Oehlke Bequest

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill.

A Woodbury woman Inez Oehlke made an incredible life by being a generous, thoughtful and focused philanthropist. She left a lasting impression on Woodbury in her 96 years of life and who continues to make a difference two years after her passing. We at the Woodbury Community Foundation (WCF) had the privilege of getting to know her well over the final years of her life.

WCF Board Member Margaret Wachholz says Inez was the most humble and kindest of folk from Woodbury. “She was soft-spoken, passionate about her faith, dedicated to her family and her community. She was a down-to-earth lady who was pretty unassuming if you were to meet her on the street,” said Margaret. “Inez also happened to be the Matriarch of Woodbury, a civic leader and one of the founders of the Woodbury Heritage Society with Woodbury’s first Mayor Orville Bielenberg.”

In 2013, Inez was among those who helped with the Foundation’s History Book by contributing stories about Woodbury’s rich history. The following year in May of 2014, Inez was our keynote speaker at the WCF 10th Anniversary. She received a standing ovation after she finished her passionate speech with a quote from a Robert Browning poem – “Come, come, come, grow old with me, the best is yet to be.”

Inez, who served with the Woodbury Heritage Society Board and on the Miller Barn Committee, saw a golden opportunity to use the Miller Barn as a place to preserve and celebrate the city’s history, honoring the Native Americans and settlers who gave birth to our community. Inez realized that bringing to life her dream of a heritage park at the Miller Barn site was going to extend beyond her lifetime. During conversations with Jack Lanners, who was then the Chair of the Foundation Board, Inez offered that she’d like to leave a portion of her estate to fund the fulfillment of her dream.

She was inspired by the work Donna Smith Stafford had done with the Woodbury K-9 Program supported through a fund at the Foundation. The Dick and Diane Hanson Fund for Innovation at the Foundation was another example she admired. She hoped to model her Miller Barn Legacy Funds in a similar manner, relying on the friends she trusted on the Foundation Board to assure they were administered consistent with her wishes.

“Inez felt strongly about engaging our community in thoughtful and effective philanthropy during one’s lifetime.” said Margaret. “I never heard her complain. She always just felt blessed to be in the moment, listen, and love.”

We lost Inez in September 2016. Her gift to the Foundation will preserve our community’s heritage for future generations to enjoy.

Scroll to Top