The Oppermans’ Legacy Continues

Bill and Phyllis Opperman

Bill and Phyllis OppermanIn 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.

The Opperman family at the Manning Public LibraryMost 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.the Opperman family

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.

Dream Lights Tree Tradition Continues

The West Central Iowa Healthcare Foundation’s holiday tradition of lighting Main Street in Manning with Dream Lights Trees continues. The Dream Lights campaign has taken many forms over the years, but the theme has always been to remember or honor family members and friends during the holidays by making a donation to the WCIHF.

The campaign will have a “new look” this year. Foundation members, Debbie Ranniger and Donna Hacker worked with Puck Enterprises, Inc. and Plastico, T&C to create new trees and new ornaments for display on Main Street.  The trees have been custom designed out of sheet metal and will be strung with lights.  They will be decked with ornaments or stars created by Plastico.  The ornaments and stars are available for sponsorship.  The fresh look is especially fitting as the group celebrates the 25th anniversary of Dream Lights this year.

Donors will be able to sponsor a gold ornament for $75 and a red ornament for $125.  There will be 42 ornaments available.  There will be three stars available as well; sponsoring a star is $250.  This year all donors will be recognized in the newspaper.  The lighting of the trees will coincide with the Weihnachtsfest Festival held on November 25th and they will remain lit until shortly after the New Year.

Sponsorship forms may be picked up at First National Bank and State Farm Insurance, on Main Street. They are also available at the Admissions Desk at Manning Regional Healthcare Center, or by emailing  Completed forms can be dropped off or emailed to Amy Benton at MRHC.

The lighted trees have become a charming attraction on Main Street during the holidays.  Let’s “Deck the Trees” to support the West Central Iowa Healthcare Foundation in their mission to provide health and wellness opportunities for residents of Manning and members of the surrounding communities.

Local Businesses Generously Support Project Forward

check for capital campaign

As the year comes to a close, Manning Regional Healthcare Center is celebrating significant success since the launch of their capital campaign, Project Forward.

Recent year-end gifts have donation totals nearing $700,000. Most recently, two major gifts were received, $35,000 from AGP and $10,000 from Home Mutual Insurance Association of Carroll County. These contributions are representative of the high-level of continued support from the Manning-area business community.

Wayne Johnson, AGP’s Director of Marketing shared, “We have always done annual community donations in the past and have traditionally picked three or four communities to contribute to significant projects. Our new CEO, Chris Schaffer [who succeeded former CEO, Keith Spackler earlier this year] wants to remain focused on areas where our plants are operating and take care of those communities.”

In the past, AGP has made a sizable donation to the new Manning Fire Department facility and last year AGP made a significant contribution to Manning chamber bucks that matched local purchases of chamber bucks.

Additional donations include Warren and Sue Puck’s $50,000 donation and AMVC’s donation of $10,000.

“AMVC has been welcomed in the Manning community for 31 years, and Manning is a large part of our business. We are happy to participate in forward-thinking projects that benefit the families and communities we call home,” shared Bob Blomme, managing partner of AMVC Veterinary Services.

Several families have contributed at the $10,000 level or higher including James and Virginia Rasmussen, the Ohde family, Randy & Jean Behrens, and Marlene Borkowski. More than 75 total donors have contributed to the campaign to date.

Project Update

“We are happy to report that the Senior Life Solutions expansion, Pharmacy renovation and negative pressure isolation room projects have been completed,” said MRHC CEO Linn Block, RN, BSN, MHA. “In the past month, we have started holding group therapy sessions for both the Senior Life Solutions program and the Recovery Center in the new space, have had several patients use the new patient isolation room, and the pharmacy is now in compliance with federal regulations.”

COVID has prevented an in-person open house, however, virtual tours of the newly renovated spaces have been shared on the MRHC Facebook and YouTube pages.

Projects Continue Forward

“The generosity of our supporters has been humbling to say the least,” said Block. “However, as we continue to evolve to meet the needs of our patients and provide care for three of the most common healthcare challenges we face today – mental health, obesity, and cancer, we request the community’s continued financial support.”

As MRHC approaches the new year, there are two major initiatives that staff, administration and board members are embarking on. An enhanced 32-slice CT scan will allow MRHC to provide scans that result in lower radiation, quicker scans, and more detail.

“The improved technology means that patients won’t have to travel to urban areas to receive better imaging,” said Linda Croghan, MRHC Director of Radiology.

The smart metal artifact reduction feature allows for high-quality images even if a patient has metal fillings, joint replacements, or metal hardware. The upgraded machine also allows local imaging for heavier people and will be able to accommodate patients up to 450 pounds. This CT is not only critical for hospital patients but also for specialty providers seeing patients in rural settings.

The other major investment is an Electronic Medical Records System which will enable MRHC to seamlessly access records and provide a system that is broadly accepted industry-wide, making medical record access much easier if a patient has to be seen at another hospital. The new system will allow online check-in for patients, enable patients to see their results online, and offer two-way communication with providers. The new system will improve telehealth capabilities as it is compatible with mobile devices.

Both projects present a significant financial hurdle for the hospital but are necessary to continue providing trusted healthcare close to home.

“Our hope is that our community members will consider supporting these projects with a monetary donation so we can continue to evolve to meet our patients’ needs, provide the best care possible and offer important, necessary services for residents in rural communities,” said Block.

As part of the Project Forward campaign, MRHC is planning a new donor wall located near the Med/Surg waiting room in the hospital that will feature a tree (or series of trees) that recognize the generous contributions from donors.

“We anticipate that donations of $100,000+ will be recognized as tree trunks, donations of $10,000-$99,999 will be branches or stepping stones, and donations of $1,000-$9,999 will be represented by leaves,” shared Block.

MRHC welcomes the support and participation in this campaign by the regional community, as well as individuals and businesses in neighboring counties. Those interested in donating can visit MRHC’s lobby to pick up a donation form, call Amy Benton at (712) 655-2072 to discuss funding needs, or visit to find out more details.

senior life solutions group room

The new Senior Life Solutions group therapy room is also used for Recovery Center Outpatient group therapy.

check for capital campaign

AGP Director of Marketing, Wayne Johnson, presents a check for $35,000 to co-chairs of the Project Forward capital campaign, Randy Behrens and Virginia Rasmussen, and MRHC CEO, Linn Block.