HLGU receives $379,000 from local couple's estate gift

The late Willard and Hattie Middleton established a charitable remainder trust that will continue to support Hannibal-LaGrange University.
Posted: Feb. 7, 2013 10:11 am Updated: Feb. 21, 2013 1:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Hannibal-LaGrange University is benefiting from the generosity and foresight of the late Willard and Hattie Middleton.

The college recently received $379,000 from the estate of the Middletons, who lived and worked in Hannibal for many years and were longtime supporters of HLGU.

The money will be used to set up the Willard Burton and Hattie Holle Middleton Memorial Endowment Fund. Annual proceeds from the endowment will be used for student scholarships and to finance campus projects.

Steve Miller, HLGU's vice president of institutional advancement, said the Middletons long ago established a "charitable remainder trust" through the Missouri Baptist Foundation, which provides estate-planning services for charitably minded donors. Miller said a trust of this type can be used as an income source for the rest of the donor's lifetime, then after the donor dies "the charity that they've chosen receives the remainder" of what's left in the trust.

In this case, HLGU was designated as the MIddletons' charitable recipient.

"It's a real blessing for us when people remember us in their estate planning," Miller said. "They were big supporters. They just developed an affinity for Hannibal-LaGrange and our mission and what we do, and they decided to help us out."

According to The Quincy Herald-Whig's news files, the Middletons moved to Hannibal in 1963 and became active in the community. Willard Middleton died in November 2000, and Hattie Middleton died this past Sept. 13 at a home in Maitland, Fla.

In September 2000, HLGU -- then known as Hannibal-LaGrange College -- dedicated the education suite on the fourth floor of the administration building in honor of the Middletons and in memory of Willard Middleton's parents.

A news story published at that time said Willard Middleton had served Fifth Street Baptist Church as Christian education minister for many years. He also became a pastor at rural Baptist churches in the Bethel and Mount Salem associations.

Middleton also helped initiate the Head Start program in Missouri and was eventually named a regional training officer, supervising all Head Start supplementary training in the state.

According to that same story, Willard Middleton served as an adjunct faculty member in early childhood education at Hannibal-LaGrange from 1979 to 1996. He was known for hosting summer and Christmas tours to Israel and Egypt.

Hattie Middleton was a vocal music teacher in the Hannibal school system for nearly 30 years. She taught at the Mark Twain, Central and Pettibone elementary schools. She also was active at Fifth Street Baptist Church for many years.

In a news release issued by HLGU, Woodrow Burt, president emeritus of HLGU, said neither Willard nor Hattie Middleton attended HLGU as students, but they were "longtime friends" of the institution.

Miller said the Middletons opted to leave their bequest to HLGU "undesignated," which means the school's administration will have the flexibility to use the endowment's annual proceeds for "whatever the greatest needs of the institution are at that time." However, the emphasis will be on scholarships and campus projects.