Reisterer Family Gives Generous Donation to School Foundation

gail reisterer VCSF scholarship
Gail Reisterer and her daughter-in-law, Susan Rathburn show the photo of her father David with his granddaughter Amanda’s wedding to Trevor MacInRoe last year.

By Sue Moore

A recent gift of $225,000 got the attention of the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation (VCSF) board members; it is the largest gift the Foundation has ever received. They were notified of the endowment by Steve Goss, the VCSF Treasurer, in February.

Gail Reisterer, a long-time Vicksburg teacher and resident, was searching for a way for the community to remember her husband David T. Reisterer after he passed away in 2014. She had a sudden flashback to when she was an initial board member of the VCSF. At that time in 1983, the Foundation started with no money in the bank, but a mission to foster educational excellence.

By making a donation in David’s name, she figured that his memory would forever live through the students who earned the David T. Reisterer scholarships each year. Because he loved baseball and actively played softball for many years, it seemed to Gail that the winners of these grants, should go to seniors at Vicksburg High School who excelled in these two sports, as well as having excelled in math or social sciences. To make sure that the scholarships would be there in perpetuity, $150,000 was designated to go into an endowment fund with his name on it and only the investment interest will be used for each year’s awards.

In 2014, there were fourteen VCSF endowed scholarships, totaling almost $30,000 awarded to deserving graduates. Now there will be fifteen and the board is hoping Reisterer’s gift will generate others in the community to find a way to remember their loved ones. Reisterer’s scholarship will be given at the High School Honors Banquet in May, with Gail and David’s daughter, Susan Rathburn, making the presentation.

Reisterer’s generosity didn’t stop there. She had taught speech in Vicksburg elementary schools for 29 years before her retirement in 1993, and knew first-hand there was a need to help teachers have the little extras that enhance their classroom teaching capabilities. Thus, $75,000 has been contributed specifically for grants to teachers from the Reisterer Family Fund. This will be administered by the VCSF board with requests from individual teachers being considered in the 2015/16 school year and beyond.

David moved to Vicksburg when he married Gail in 1974. He was raised in Kalamazoo, attended Hackett High School and then Western Michigan University. He faithfully followed the Detroit Tigers and coached basketball and baseball while in the Air Force. Besides playing city league softball as a pitcher and short stop, he was an avid golfer. He soon embraced Vicksburg as his home town and played every golf course nearby, hoping to achieve a hole in one. He was an inveterate story teller, telling jokes that seemed to never end, according to Gail. “He used his sense of humor to alleviate tension if it was in the air, even incorporating special voices and actions while spinning a yarn.”

The Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation now has an endowed fund of approximately 1.6 million, due to the many generous contributions of people in the greater Vicksburg community, according to Goss. “We only spend the money gained from investment growth, allocated for curiosity grants to students, teacher incentive grants, Bardeen grants, and scholarships. It’s the little extra that is so important to the quality of education in the Vicksburg Community Schools.

“I’m just grateful that I am in a position to be able to do this,” Gail Reisterer concluded.

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