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.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (20)
  1. Fun&Games says:

    More proof that teachers are over paid!

    1. sad but true says:

      It’s not what you make, it’s what you save!

    2. treestump says:

      Teachers make like 45k lol thats overpaid? you’re a chimp, do you work at BKing

    3. carla says:

      Written by someone with no respect for teachers. I’m not sure which school district you’re from, but I can’t think of any overpaid teachers unless they are not doing their job.

      1. T says:

        I worked in a school district, as with any industry some people are truely over paid for what they do. There were some teachers that were way under paid for what they did. Others should not receive a pay check at all……

    4. Union Thug says:


      You must be the guy in the “Ding fries are done” video.

    5. TheCruxOfTheBuscuit says:

      More proof republicans are idiots!

    6. janice says:

      aaah, did you read that he worked another job and lived with his parents, you dork!

    7. janice says:

      um, did you read that he worked another job and lived with his parents, you dork!

    8. Ban the Unions says:

      I agree, Over paid and teaching there liberal b s to all the students.

      1. steve says:

        To Ban the Unions. Is the answer A) THERE, B) THEIR, or C) THEY’RE You’re an idiot. WCCO should give an intelliegence test to anyone who wants to post an opinion. THERE would be many less clueless postings.

  2. Jean says:

    I worked hard all my life and NEVER had money like that and I am very careful how I spend my money. Yes maybe teachers salaries are ok but it is the retirement benefits that are the problem.

    Sure wish I could have used my paycheck on what I wanted instead of saving for my retirement. Salary plus retirement benefits equals a sweetheart deal.

    I sure would not leave any of my money to a school district. They will find some dumb thing to spend it on. So this school teacher should have found something constructive to do with his money.

    1. TheCruxOfTheBuscuit says:

      Jean – It is not the fault of teachers you are too stupid to get a job at a company that provides retirement benefits. Maybe if you lived with your parents your entire life you would have had a bit more money for ‘you’. And no one here cares who you leave your pathetic little life savings to.

  3. carla says:

    Jean, it appears that he chose what to do with his paychecks. He could also have received inheritance from his parents. Way too judgmental. He chose not to get married or have kids. You COULD have used your paychecks on what you wanted. It just depended on what your priorities were. You can choose any field to go into and why would you want anyone to criticize you for whatever benefits you receive at retirement? I hate when people sound like they don’t have choices.

  4. carla says:

    I admire this gentlemen for leaving the school district this money. He chose what he wanted to do with his money and that is awesome. Congratulations Winona. Please be good stewards of that money.

  5. Ha! says:

    Now, if a Dr. would die and leave a nice dose to Medicare. If a MN Senator would die and leave a nice dole to the state. If a lawyer would die setting aside a testament retainer for pensions. And a Real Estate mogul would die leaving a deed to end forclosures— we need more rich dead people.
    Nah, good for this district. The guy obviously enjoyed his job and, ya can’t take it with ya.

  6. momoffourinbuffalo says:

    Has anyone ever thought that this mans parents could have left him money when they passed away, and that everything they had plus what he saved came out to be close to 3 million.

    1. The One says:

      You don’t know that! Don’t speak of things that you know nothing of!

  7. The One says:

    I thought all teahers were poor!!!!! That is what they keep teling us in Wisconsin!

  8. Joyce says:

    I’d like to know what the school district plans to do with the money……to me that’s more important than how he got/saved it.

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