In the final months of his life, Harmon Killebrew outlined the legacy he wanted to leave in the communities where he had lived and played.
Ensuring that his Harmon Killebrew Foundation remained strong was a priority, said foundation president Jason Coffel, so he could continue to spread his love for baseball even after death.
Killebrew drew up a list of immediate goals: construction of baseball fields for disabled children in the Twin Cities, the state of Idaho and Washington, D.C. (through the nonprofit "Miracle League"), plus a scholarship fund at his alma mater, Payette High School in Payette, Idaho.
More projects will be funded down the road, Coffel said, most related to children and baseball.
"We had a lot of conversations," said Coffel, a controller at Ecolab in St. Paul. "He wanted to make sure more kids had an opportunity to play baseball at fields suited for their needs."
Although the foundation has funded children's hospitals and natural disaster relief in places such as Haiti and Texas in the past, those projects will be put on a back burner as the focus shifts to baseball fields, he said.
Other changes are afoot. Since the foundation was created in 1998, it has been funded by golf events and benefit dinners where people "come to be with Harmon and some of his friends," said Coffel.
"We plan to continue the events, but also look at other ways to raise money to benefit our causes," he said.
The foundation plans to build a permanent funding base, creating an endowment fund and using the interest on the fund to pay administrative expenses for its charitable fundraising. That's about $33,000 a year.
"We recognize, in the long run, we need to find new ways to carry his legacy forward," said Coffel.
Killebrew requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the Harmon Killebrew Foundation's Legacy Program. Go to www.harmonkillebrew foundation.org.
Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511