The Fence Post
Frugal Farmer Knew How to Pay it Forward

Frugal Farmer Knew How to Pay it Forward

Western Iowa farmer, Edwin "Bud" Skalla, left most of his estate to 13 southwest Iowa churches after passing away this past winter. He was one farmer who knew how to pay if forward.

This being the season of Spring, it is a time of reflection and preparation. For myself, I try to reflect on what I can do better in my life. Situations I could give more of myself or pay it forward, so to speak.

As I find ways to do this not-so-easy task, I keep one person in mind. Edwin "Bud" Skalla. No, I didn't know him personally. However, he still has made an impact on my life.

Bud, an elderly southwest Iowa bachelor farmer who is remembered as quiet and frugal left behind millions of dollars in cash and property in his will to benefit more than a dozen churches in the region. He died in November at age 92.

St. Mary’s in Portsmouth — where Skalla grew up and attended Catholic school — receives its own 282.72-acre farm south of town, where the “Bud” barn stands vigil for passing motorists.

Bud left cash assets and farmland that could total up to $10 million, with most of the estate going to churches in the area. Skalla's 858.28 acres were auctioned off in 5 tracts. According to Dunlap Livestock Auction website, Tract 1 sold for $10,000 per acre, tract 2 sold for $8,625 per acre, tract 3 sold for #12,300 per acre, tract 4 sold for $830 per acre and tract 5 sold for $7,100 per acre. The auction saw over 700 spectators, with the 5 tracts reaching $7.8 million, all being split among 13 local churches.

The churches benefiting in Shelby County are: St. Michael’s in Harlan, St. Peter’s in Defiance, St. Joseph’s in Earling, St. Boniface in Westphalia, St. Mary’s in Portsmouth and St. Mary’s in Panama.

In Harrison County: St. Patrick’s Church in Missouri Valley, St. Anne’s Church in Logan, St. Patrick’s in Dunlap and Sacred Heart in Woodbine. In addition, St. Patrick’s in Neola, St. Rose of Lima in Denison and St. Patrick’s in Council Bluffs are also beneficiaries. Skalla spent all but 13 years of his life on his farm southeast of Portsmouth before moving to Elm Crest Retirement Community in Harlan.

So as I try to focus this time on preparation and reflection, I keep Bud in mind on how to give back, pay-it-forward and how to go about it in a humble manner.

I think a lot of today's world could learn a thing or two from Bud. Rest in Peace, my friend.

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