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Solheim Receives Surprise Gift of Over $1 Million

Imagine being in charge of Solheim’s fundraising and out of the blue you get a call informing you that a past donor has left you $1.2 million in his will, the largest gift in Solheim’s 90-year history!

Then you learn that the donor never stayed at Solheim or even had a family member stay here. You’d probably be looking around the room to see if you’re on Candid Camera. How did this miraculous blessing happen?

Several years ago, a local educator at L.A. Unified School District (LAUSD) John R. Manken picked out Solheim for his elderly mother to live. Although she never resided here before passing away, Manken still wrote a $1.2 million gift for Solheim into his will.

Manken died at the age of 89 from a heart attack in March 2012. He had never married and had no descendants. He was impressed with Solheim’s special brand of loving care and extraordinary service. As a former principal at three LAUSD schools he knew a quality institution when he saw it.

Manken was a devout Lutheran. He must have appreciated Solheim’s Lutheran roots and our chapel. He also left a sizable bequest to California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks and left funds to a Lutheran church in Los Angeles that he attended.

Those who knew him well said that Manken had a great sense of humor and was always very thoughtful of others - living his life as a reflection of the teachings of his Lutheran faith. His estate went primarily to Lutheran organizations as a tribute to his faith.

Manken was a native Californian whose parents moved to Los Angeles from Minnesota and owned a plumbing business. His parents were generous people, leaving gifts for scholarships at California Lutheran University and encouraging their son to be generous as well.

With that kind of upbringing, Manken received a master’s degree in music from the University of Southern California (USC) and after a year touring as a concert pianist, he decided to become a teacher and returned to USC to earn a doctorate in educational administration.

Manken later became a teacher and eventually a principal for the LAUSD. He enjoyed encouraging students to pursue the arts and entertaining his staff several times a year at his Pacific Palisades home. It seems his whole life was about giving to others.

Manken’s gift to Solheim will first be used to make much-needed renovations to our campus and remodel our memory care wing with new carpeting, paint, furniture and a special “memory box” outside of each resident’s room where they can display their special mementos and photos.

We will also be renovating our dining room and interior spaces, and the gift will help with many other upcoming projects and enable us to continue to provide charitable care to residents who outlive their financial assets so they can continue to live at Solheim.

Planned Giving – leaving a gift in one’s will - is such a profoundly effective way to give to Solheim. Planned gifts can enable you to make a more significant gift than you thought possible, while at the same time allowing you to achieve your financial, philanthropic, and estate planning goals.

If you’d like to consider leaving your legacy by making a planned gift to Solheim, we encourage you to contact Tina Antypas at 323-257-7518 or at email to learn all about it.

John Manken’s life is an inspiration to us all here at Solheim and we will be forever grateful for his generosity. We appreciate all of our donors and volunteers equally and depend on all of you who make up our special “Solheim family”!

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