In today’s day and age, people often want to ‘experience the most’ and ‘live their best life.’ One part of living a great life is to be grateful for the opportunities and places that you value and to consider the impact you want to make and the legacy you wish to leave for the next generation.
For longtime Manning residents and family farmers, Bill and Phyllis Opperman, they had great examples throughout their lifetime of the generosity of family and friends who contributed their time, talent, and treasures for the betterment of the community.
Bill’s grandfather, George Dietz, a prominent farmer and visionary businessman, had the foresight to recognize that when the Manning General Hospital was built, it would need an elevator to be effective. He contributed financially so Manning would be one of the first rural hospitals in the state to have an elevator. This feature assisted patients for many years until the current hospital was built in 2014.
In an interview in early 2021, Bill reflected on the numerous other amenities Manning cherished thanks to generous donors and funds raised from various community events, such as the fire department, parks, trails, the Hausbarn Heritage Park, and so much more.
Bill and Phyllis lived a full life, felt blessed to live in Manning, and were very proud of everything the small community offered. They were active in community events throughout their life. As they began estate planning, they looked to identify ways they could give back to the community and make a difference for generations to come. They also wanted to make an impact while they were alive so they could see the fruits of their labor.
Most notably was their foundational gift to kickstart the Manning Public Library relocation and expansion in 2022. Although Phyllis unfortunately did not get to experience the finished space after passing just two months prior to the library opening, Bill visited nearly every day. Not only did he read the daily papers, but he also volunteered to take care of the new community gem. Nothing made him prouder than seeing people of all ages enjoying the space.
Personalized Care Makes an Impact
Bill was intentional about considering other impacts he wanted to make before his passing. He reflected on the parts of the community that had the biggest influence on them throughout their lives. One memory that kept coming to mind was that, as they faced health challenges, they were able to continue receiving care in Manning and were “overwhelmed by how much people truly cared,” shared their daughter, Janis Opperman.
Janis, who has worked as a nurse in Omaha for many years, reflected that “the care they received at MRHC was exceptional. What mattered most to them was that all the medical staff worked together and were willing to talk to them, making sure they understood everything that was going on. When they needed anything, the staff made sure they got it. Staff always went above and beyond their expectations, and how much they cared always showed. Having caregivers that are neighbors and family of friends always meant a lot to them. They could not have gotten better care anywhere else,” Janis shared.
The Oppermans were grateful to have various healthcare services in Manning, so they didn’t have to travel far as they aged. Phyllis went through physical therapy and was thankful for MRHC’s skilled team of therapists. She appreciated that, although she had to receive treatment three times a week, in a matter of five minutes or less she could get there, and Bill could go back home instead of waiting for her in the lobby. Likewise, it wasn’t a long drive home to get back and rest.
Another example of the exceptional care the Oppermans received at MRHC was when Phyllis suffered a stroke. “Dad called 911 and they responded right away. In less than five hours from the initial phone call, surgery was completed in Omaha. Had she not been seen right away and stabilized in Manning it would have been too late to take her elsewhere,” Janis said.
A Legacy in the Making
“Dad was always a practical man, and he knew that life had its cycle,” said Janis. “As he reflected on the legacy he wanted to leave, he shared that he wanted to contribute financially so that community leaders could do what they needed to get done. He also wanted to do something important, something from the heart.”
Bill and his family met with Linn Block, MRHC CEO, who shared some of the opportunities that were on the horizon for the hospital. “While we didn’t determine an exact project at the time, we shared the vision for the future of the hospital and our commitment to keeping necessary services local,” said Block.” Bill was happy to hear of the progress and commitment to ensuring that hospital services would be available for generations to come.
Although the board of directors have not determined the exact project their donation will fund, Block assures, “it will contribute to something big. The Oppermans’ donation will provide support for necessary upgrades to further provide high-quality, yet local care, that patients deserve and have come to expect from MRHC.”
“We are grateful for their legacy contribution to MRHC as well as their children’s willingness to support us even though they no longer live here,” added Block. “It is generosity like theirs that keeps our rural hospital thriving despite a tough economic and political environment.”
Bill passed away on January 15, 2023, and he and his family were grateful that he could spend his final days at MRHC. He was comfortable, it was convenient for the family, and the ability to see his friends meant the world to him.
“As we all consider the legacy we want to leave in this world, we are thankful for visionaries such as Bill, Phyllis, and even Grandpa Dietz who were intentional about making a difference long into the future for the entire community,” shared Block.
MRHC will forever remember the Oppermans and are grateful for their support of MRHC and the Manning community.