WINONA, Minn. (AP) — Richard Kolter didn’t live a flashy life. The former teacher didn’t drive showy cars or wear extravagant clothes.
That’s why it was such a surprise when the Winona Area Public School District, to which Kolter left the bulk of his estate, learned the size of his donation: $2.88 million.
“I guess a gift like that almost leaves you speechless,” school board chairman Greg Fellman said Thursday after the amount was revealed.
When the 67-year-old Kolter died of a heart attack in December, he left the district 75 percent of his estate, the Winona Daily News reported.
Kolter taught math at Winona Junior High School and later worked in the district’s technology department for more than 30 years. He never married, had no children and lived with his parents until their deaths.
“He had the means to live a different lifestyle,” said Kevin Flies, the district’s information systems director. “He just was a very conservative man.”
Friends remembered Kolter as low-key, certainly not someone who lived as though he had millions in the bank. He lived life simply, typically dressing in a plain shirt and workman’s pants.
When he wasn’t helping the district, he could be found at the nearby Westfield Golf Course. He started as the grounds superintendent in 1957 and spent 53 years “meticulously” mowing the course and raking sand traps, general manager Don Boynton said.
He would arrive at the course at 5 a.m. and do a little work before heading to his district job. He often returned on his lunch break and again after the school day ended, sometimes staying until 10 p.m.
“From sun up to past sundown,” Boynton said, “he was always around the golf course.”
If he wasn’t working on the course, he was playing on it.
“He was pretty quiet, but he was an intensive golfer,” said longtime friend Mike Riska, who recalled a game several years ago in which Kolter shot a hole-in-one and then spent $200 on celebratory drinks.
The district hasn’t made specific plans for how to spend Kolter’s gift, but Winona interim superintendent Scott Hannon promised that school officials would be frugal with the funds.
“We’re just elated to have something like this come along,” Hannon said.
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