Legacy Features


Bill and Birute Fleck

Bill and Birute Fleck have always loved living in a rural area with easy access to the water.  When they considered where to retire, Charlevoix rose to the top of the list.  “I had a childhood friend who had a cottage in this area, so that’s how I was first introduced,” said Bill.  “Birute and I visited fairly often when we lived downstate and appreciated the opportunity to sail in the summer and cross-country ski in the winter.”  Although the pair enjoys traveling, they are year-round residents. “I love that winter provides lots of quiet, beauty, and opportunities for snow-shoeing or skiing,” notes Birute.  “Strange as it may seem, I also enjoy shoveling snow and the cold weather!”

A close circle of friends, volunteer commitments with the Charlevoix Lions and Charlevoix Public Library, and taking advantage of the recreational opportunities in northern Michigan have helped Bill and Birute grow roots in the community.  When they met with local attorney Scott Beatty about their estate plans, he connected them with the Community Foundation.  “We have both benefitted from others’ time and energy during our lives, so this is one way that we can give back,” explains Birute. Because of their deep respect for the power of education to change one’s situation, Bill and Birute have focused their future gift on supporting education for local young people. “We know the Community Foundation is well-managed – they make good decisions and know where and how to use dollars pragmatically. And for us, there’s a sense of satisfaction in doing some good without any expectation,” adds Bill.


Learn more about how to leave a legacy and joining the Legacy Society.





The Community Foundation has received many estate gifts that move the community forward for a brighter future. Here we remember our special friends who have passed away, but whose legacies live on. For good. For ever. 


Ethel Coeling

After graduating from Michigan State University, Ethel obtained her physical therapy certificate from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 1942. She served as a physical therapist around the United States and in Germany until she retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1967.  During this time she made many weekend visits to her favorite spot, "The Back of the Moon", her cottage in Norwood on the shore of Lake Michigan.  A second career led her to the Marshall Islands, where she worked for the Government of the Trust Territory of the United States.  Ethel worked on the island of Majuro in the Pacific for 18 years, where many of her patients were young native children.

When she retired with honors from the Trust Territory in 1984, Ethel enjoyed life at her cherished cottage in northern Michigan.  She engaged with the community through volunteer work, hiking, reading, and painting.  She began making a difference closer to home through the Community Foundation.  "There are so many local programs worthy of support," Ethel said, "and the Community Foundation offers so many options." Ethel decided to establish a donor advised fund; the Community Foundation helped with the transfer of appreciated stock and handled all the paperwork.  When Ethel passed away in 2003, her estate established funds to support the environment, Charlevoix Library, Ellsworth Schools, and the Charlevoix Area Community Pool.

Of particular significance is the Ethel Coeling Environmental Fund.  Ethel's estate gift has allowed for the Community Foundation to make grants that have restored, preserved, and protected this beautiful corner of the world.  Learn more about what has been accomplished thanks to the Ethel W. Coeling Environmental Fund.

Ethel's legacy lives on when her funds continue to support the aspects of community that she loved most during her lifetime.




What will your legacy be?

The Community Foundation is here to partner with you to make a difference close to home.