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Former Pressley Ridge orphan gives back

Published: Aug. 27, 2020 at 8:53 PM EDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, W.Va (WDTV) - Most people will pass on everything they own to their loved one’s, but one man chose to share what he had left with a place that gave him the world.

Wilbur McKiernan died in in December of 2012, and after his son’s death at the end of 2019, Mckiernan’s final wish would be granted.

“Wilbur lived a real meager lifestyle, and when he sat across the desk from said, ‘hey can you and your dad help manage this money,’” Dale Grambush, a family friend and trustee said.

However, Grambush was not aware, at first, with the amount or where the funds would be headed. So it came as a surprise when he saw the funds, but what didn’t surprise him was where he wanted the money to go.

“I don’t remember him driving fancy cars or eating out a lot,” he said laughing. “But he was always donating to organizations and his church.”

“So he had established this trust, wanted to take care of his son and then leave the remainder to two organizations, and Pressley Ridge was one of them,” Grambush said.

Leaving $800,000 to the nonprofit that services families in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, the one that McKiernan was tied to the most was in Clarksburg. It was formally known as the Kappa Sigma Pi Home.

“Kappa Sigma Pi is a not for profit voluntary board who came together and was founded and chartered in 1921,” the Senior Director of WV Programs and Services, Robin Renquest said. “They continued to serve kids in the Clarksburg area until the 1970′s.”

Soon, Kappa Sigma Pi partnered with Pressley Ridge and that is how the nonprofit found a home in West Virginia.

Now, over 90 years later, McKiernan is giving back, through his estate, to an organization that played a huge role in his life.

“This is truly a gift from above when you think about it,” said Susanne Cole, CEO and president of Pressley Ridge.

The gift couldn’t have come at a more perfect time as many nonprofits like Pressley Ridge are facing challenges due to COVID-19.

“To get a gift of that magnitude for us, it allows us to continue to provide seamless services for kids and families to the best of our ability,” Cole said.

To be able to continue serving those in the community is what Grambush believes was McKiernan’s true passion.

“He always loved working with kids,” he said. “I think he had a good understanding that if you wanted to get a kid started off right in life, it was best to help them out when they were younger.”

“I think that was really part of his dream, that he would be able to help someone who is in his similar type of situation,” Grambush said.

Based off of McKiernan’s generosity, he will be honored with a bench at the facilities he lived in, including in Harrison County.

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