Arthur man's gift has gone a long way

By: Phyllis Stock

By: Phyllis Stock

By: Phyllis Stock

By: Phyllis Stock

ARTHUR – Early in the early 20th century, no one could have envisioned that a young man trudging the dusty roads between Arthur and Lovington would become a half-million dollar benefactor for the two villages, but 70 years later, that's exactly what happened.

In October 1973, John Timm set up a trust document for the distribution of his estate, which included bequests to a sister, nieces, nephews, a secretary and the Illinois Masonic Hospital of Chicago.

Upon his death and after providing for the bequests and gifts, the State Bank of Arthur was to establish a separate trust to be known as the John E. Timm Charitable Trust, which consisted of all property remaining in his estate, more than $500,000.

The trust called for an advisory committee, including the mayors of Arthur and Lovington, the school board presidents in Arthur and Lovington, the president of the Arthur Association of Commerce and the president of the Arthur Retirement Home.

"My family (members) were early settlers in the area of the village of Arthur," wrote Mr. Timm in his will. "That village, in which I was born, and the nearby village of Lovington ... were kind to me in my youth, and I feel that I should provide for the village of Arthur and its immediate area (the) facilities which I missed in my youth." Because of his generosity, money from his trust has been used to help deserving students from Arthur and Lovington high schools to complete their high school education and to continue their educations at college and graduate school levels.

The money also went to recreational facilities, public libraries, prizes for educational, literary and scientific pursuits and the maintenance of the Arthur Retirement Home.

Mr. Timm died in April 1976 at the age of 89, but it was 1980 before all the bequests, gifts and expenses could be dispersed and the advisory committee set up.

One of the first benefits of the trust was the establishment of scholarships to seniors of both Arthur and Lovington high schools. Since that time $8,000 per year has gone to Arthur High School students, and $1,600 a year has gone to Lovington students.

But that is only a small part of the trust because more than $1,589,355 has been used for the schools, villages, libraries, The Arthur Home, the Arthur Park District, the Lovington Community Ambulance and several other entities needing funds.

What started as a little more than $500,000 has grown under the advisory committee to more than $1.3 million and is still carrying out Mr. Timm's wishes.

John E. Timm was born on Dec. 18, 1886, one of six children of Eggert and Margaret Knutzen Timm.

His father was killed in a fire when he was 15, and Johnny was forced to move to Lovington to live with an uncle, Ab Hoots,who operated a clothing store there.

He had attended Arthur schools prior to that time and was a popular young man with many friends there but finished his last two years of high school in Lovington, graduating in 1905.

Following graduation, he taught school in Williamsburg for one year, and while teaching, took a civil service correspondence course that helped him get a position in the U.S. Railway Mail Service.

His job took him to Chicago, where he attended DePaul University Law School by day and sorted mail at night.

In 1914, Mr. Timm graduated from DePaul with honors and began practicing law as a member of the law firm of Underwood, Treacy and Timm and later, Underwood, Stevens and Timm in Chicago. He married Louise Hiller in 1928 and she preceded him in death in 1954.

He remained with the firm until his retirement in 1958.

During his 40 years of practicing law in Chicago he was a member and former treasurer of the City Club of Chicago, co-founder and director of the Marshfield Trust and Savings Bank of Chicago and president of its safe-deposit vault company.

Although Mr. Timm lived in Chicago, he maintained a close relationship with friends and relatives in the Arthur area, speaking at many functions through the years, such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Moultrie-Douglas County Fair activities.

Documents from The Sullivan-News Progress were used in writing this story.

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