Field of Interest Funds: John Rimmer

Field of Interest Funds: John Rimmer

John RImmer

Giving is a trait one must learn. That was John Rimmer’s conclusion and he certainly learned it well based on his giving through the Hutchinson Community Foundation.

John Rimmer was not a native to Hutchinson, but he was dedicated to and enthusiastic about the community. A charming southern drawl gave his roots away — even though he left his Mississippi childhood home over 70 years ago.

In 1938, after graduating from Millsaps College, located in Jackson, Miss., his passion for flying led him into a civilian pilot training program. With World War II escalating, John joined the Army Air Corps in 1941. His assignments took him to five states before finally landing in Kansas — at a Great Bend B29 bomber command. On the way, John met and married his first wife, Ellen.

Choosing Hutchinson
After his military service, John went to work for a Mississippi bag supplier. He was assigned to the Kansas City office, then asked to work out of either Wichita or Hutchinson. Because of its size and friendliness, the Rimmers opted for Hutchinson.

Once here, John became familiar with a local small bag manufacturer and ultimately joined Hutchinson Bag Company, later renamed HUBCO. His vision and leadership spurred growth that quadrupled the company’s production levels.

John purchased controlling interest of HUBCO, in his words, “after educating our three children and finally having the resources to do it.” His highly successful 55-year career with HUBCO is amazing; but no more so than John’s 54 year marriage to Ellen. They met while he was stationed in Tennessee, and married just in time to spend their honeymoon driving to his new assignment in Kansas. More than a half-century later, that honeymoon ended when Ellen succumbed to cancer in 1998.


Classroom Extra Credit
In 2000, while taking a computer class at Hutchinson Community College, John met a woman who also had lost a spouse to cancer after a 54-year marriage. John and his classmate, Bethe, discovered they had much in common and married in 2001.

Listening to John reminisce and philosophize, clues to his motivations continually emerged, such as this: “Life is given to us to do things for others. That’s the kick I get out of life.” At another point, he commented, “Giving is like exercise, something that should just go along with living. You learn to do it and find it’s fun.” He went on to suggest: “Start by looking at what you can do for somebody else, for your community. Give to see something happen you’ll be proud of.”

Getting It Done
John was grateful his estate planning attorney, John Schmidt, introduced him to the Hutchinson Community Foundation. “I don’t want my money wasted…I want it doing things that are meaningful. They have the capabilities to do that so much better.”

He added: “If I were doing it on my own, when I’m no longer here it wouldn’t get done. With the Foundation, I know I can depend on my funds continuing to help in the future.”

The future is very important to John. That’s one of the reasons he chose education as the primary benefactor of his philanthropy. “Nobody can take that away from you,” he said.  John also chose education out of respect for how scholarships helped augment his part-time jobs and summer work as he earned his degree from Millsaps College.

While John’s endowment provides scholarships at Millsaps as well as at Sterling College, Hutchinson Community College has been his major focus. An early champion of the HCC Presidential Scholarship program, John’s charitable legacy supports HCC students while also sponsoring a classroom in the Shears Technology Center (in conjunction with HUBCO).


More to Be Done
A few months before his death in 2011, John & Bethe Rimmer established a new fund to support children in preschool through 2nd grade – the John R. and Bethene S. Rimmer Fund for Early Childhood Education & Enrichment.  John said, “We’ve done quite a bit for the college kids, but the younger ones are important too.  If they don’t get the schooling they need, they won’t make it to college.”

This endowed fund provides a permanent legacy for the Rimmers and valuable assistance to many students and families in Reno County.  Grants are available to 19 Reno County elementary schools, the Reno County Head Start program, and the Early Education Center.


The Foundation as Home
“The Community Foundation is a wonderful means for us to accomplish what we want to do — make gifts,” John reiterated, “You just can’t do it any better yourself. It’s an excellent place to use as a ‘home’. They make it easy to consolidate your efforts.”

Before leaving for his daily coffee confab with buddies, John humbly remarked, “I’m a very ordinary person. If I can do this, just think of what others could do!”