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Holy Family Parish bequeathed farm estate

By JOANNE FOX, Globe editor
(Email Joanne)

EMMETSBURG – Bill Mundus was a bachelor farmer who tended to his homestead without any fanfare.

So, it came as somewhat of a shock to Father Clem Currans, pastor of Holy Family Church, this mild-mannered son of the earth decided to leave the bulk of his estate – estimated at about $2 million – to his parish.

Although the parish will hold on to the farmland – per the will’s stipulations – the remainder of the estate will go up on the auction block at 10 a.m., June 7, at the farm, located three and a half miles south of Emmetsburg on Highway 4.

William Frank Mundus, 84, passed away March 10, 2013 at the Emmetsburg Care Center. Father Currans celebrated the funeral Mass on March 14 at Holy Family Church.

“It was after the funeral lunch when Bill’s nephew came up to me and asked when I planned to sell the estate,” he recalled. “I had no idea what he was talking about.”

According to his will, Mundus bequeathed money to a number of individuals and the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Belleville, Ill.

The “rest, residue and remainder” of his estate – 260 acres of Palo Alto County farmland, an extensive tractor collection, his house and furnishings – went to Holy Family Parish.

“The will stipulates the parish may not sell the farmland for a period of five years from the date of Bill’s death,” Father Currans said. “We would not do that because there is already an individual who is renting the land.”
Father Currans called the estate a “godsend” for Emmetsburg Catholic School.

“The proceeds will go into an endowment fund,” he said. “After taxes, we estimate the income from the farmland will generate around $28,000 a year for the fund. That will enable us to be competitive with our teachers’ salaries.”

Father Currans characterized Mundus as “a quiet guy.”

“He was always at the Saturday vigil Mass, but never one to linger and chat,” he said.

Mundus, the son of Leo and Anna (Berka) Mundus, began his education in country school and graduated from Emmetsburg Catholic High School in 1948.

“I must confess I don’t remember Bill ever indicating a fondness for the school,” Father Currans said. “But clearly, he was appreciative of the education it provided him by providing for Holy Family Parish in his will.”
Following high school, Bill began farming with his father. In 1952, he was inducted into the United States Army, serving during the Korean Conflict. Bill was honorably discharged in 1954 and returned to Palo Alto County where he continued farming, retiring in 2007.

Survivors include four brothers, George (Betty) Mundus of Spencer, Frank (Karen) Mundus of Spencer, Larry Mundus of Tulsa, Okla., and Leo (Wendy) Mundus of Emmetsburg; two sisters, Dorothy Johnson of Fort Dodge, and Sharon Mundus of Mason City.

He was preceded in death by two sisters, Louise Meiners and Barb Culver, and a brother, Bernard Mundus.
Bill enjoyed collecting antique tractors, many of which will be auctioned off on June 7.

Father Currans enlisted the help of his brother Paul Currans of Spencer to help with some of the refurbishing.
“I worked as a tractor mechanic most of my career, so I was familiar with what needed to be done,” Paul said. “I knew it was important to get all of the tractors running so they could be auctioned off.”

Many of the tractors were portioned out to Holy Family parishioners for repair, but Paul took six tractors, which were “some of the tougher ones.”

“Younger guys haven’t done anything with the magneto on a tractor,” he said, referring to the small electric generator that contains a permanent magnet providing high voltage pulses that mesh with a tractor’s engine, enabling it to run.

Paul Currans hesitated when asked if there was one tractor that caught his eye, and then laughed.

“I have too many old tractors already,” he said. “I don’t need another.”

Father Currans echoed that sentiment.

“I don’t know where I would keep one,” he chuckled.

“But if I had to pick one,” Father Currans went on, “there is a White tractor that’s very nice.”

“I think the interest will be on the newer models,” Paul Currans speculated. “Years ago, people would go for old tractors with steel wheels, but there’s not much you can do with them. I prefer the rubber tires on my tractors.”

Father Currans had trouble finding the words of appreciation for Mundus’ generosity.

“I would only hope that his story would inspire others to consider their parishes and schools in their wills,” he said.

Chuck Sikora of Ruthven will be one of the auctioneers for the June 7 event.
Ned Munn, Holy Family Parish Council President

If you go

What: Estate Auction
Who: William Mundus
When: 10 a.m., June 7
Where: 4137 460th Ave., Emmetsburg
Questions: Ned Munn (712) 298-1688

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