Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Time to read
1 minute
Read so far

Man's quiet generosity provides a city-wide legacy

Posted in:

HARTINGTON — Clifford Fillips was a private, conservative man in life.

In death, he left a large and public legacy to a city that was as good as family to him.

Residents here were surprised to learn Fillips left more than $170,000 to the City of Hartington as part of his estate when he died in December 2020.

“A lot of folks, after he left his estate, have said, ‘I saw him but I didn’t really know who he was,’ ” said Fillips’ attorney Steve Pier. “He had no immediate family and I think he just had a fondness for the local area having grown up here. He probably always considered himself from Hartington.”

Fillips was born in Fordyce and graduated from Holy Trinity High School in Hartington in 1957. He later graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1961.

From there, he spent two years in the Army and then worked as an engineer in the St. Paul, Minn., area - for Sears & Roebuck for nearly 30 years and then for AGI/Honeywell for seven years.

After retirement, he stayed in Minnesota for a few years and then made the decision to come home to Hartington in 2014.

He died in December 2020 at the age of 81. He never married or had any children, but left behind some extended family members in the area as well as lifelong friends, Pier said.

In the large sum left to the City of Hartington, $38,000 was dispersed to the city’s parks; $40,000 to its rescue squad; and $40,000 to its fire department.

Fillips’ beloved city library was given $50,000.

“He loved the library and loved to talk to the librarians,” Pier said.

He also gave money to local schools; his church, Holy Trinity; the Hartington Economic Development Corporation; Fordyce’s fire department; and some individuals.

“It’s not rare for people to leave a sum of money to an organization but to leave their entire estate - and a considerable estate - substantially to a local government is rare,” Pier said.

Even Fillips’ sister, Adele Promes, said she wasn’t completely aware of his plans for his estate.

“He called me around the time he was making his will out and said he was leaving money for all these different things but never said an amount,” she said. “I had no idea that he had that much.”

Promes, of Westminster, Colo., said she heard from her brother often by phone call but they hadn’t seen each other in some time as geography and older age became an issue. Another sister lives in Texas and a brother in Michigan.

She hopes the money her brother left for the city provides a lasting impact to the town that was near and dear to his heart.

“I hope he helped a lot of people,” she said.

Stay in the know!

To get news alerts on your cell phone, get the Cedar County News app in the ITunes store or  in the Google Play Store.