Woman leaves behind $4.2 million donation to her hometown

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WEBSTER, S.D. (KSFY) -- It's not every day someone leaves millions of dollars to a small town they grew to love. Phyllis Hanse, a piano teacher in Webster, South Dakota, did just that after she passed away last year at the age of 98.

Hanse began teaching piano lessons in 1953, when she moved back to Webster to manage her father's farming interests after his death.

Hanse always had a charitable intent for her hometown. She's been working on the big donation for quite some time, but made her wishes known to Tom Sannes, a lawyer in Webster, about five or six years ago.

She left her donation of $4.2 million to the small town to help out with high school scholarships, youth programs, the library and the local church. Hanse was a prominent figure in the community, who taught thousands of children over many decades how to play the piano.

"She loved kids. She was a very optimistic person," said Sannes, who knew Hanse his entire life. "She loved seeing what was happening with our school and our high school kids."

Students at the high school will have a chance to benefit from Hanse's donation through two different scholarships. One is for students that will attend Augustana University, which will flow through the school's foundation. The other will benefit students attending other schools.

The details are still getting confirmed for the alumni scholarship, but it's a legacy that will continue to live on.

"I hear a lot of great stories about her and to know that the legacy of what she values will continue on forever and ever is pretty remarkable," said Amy Miller, the assistant principal at the Webster School District.

Sannes said the funds are going to be a game-changer for the Webster community that will hopefully last forever.

"I think there's a lot of good ideas being spoken about among community members to make this a last impact for the community," explained Sannes.

Sannes says Hanse was an only child and had no children of her own, but that she was a fixture at local children's sporting events and high school activities.

Read the original version of this article at ksfy.com.

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