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Glenmary’s Mission and Ministries Endowment Benefits from Donor’s Generosity

Glenmary’s Mission and Ministries Endowment Benefits from Donor’s Generosity
Retired Army Col. Bob Kies

“We’re often guided by our past experiences, sometimes unconsciously,” says retired Army Col. Robert Kies. During a 33-year military career, Bob saw a great deal of the world—and his share of courage, sacrifice, faith, pain and cruelty. Looking back on his 83 years, he says, “God has blessed me and I owe it to God and other people to give back.”

One way he’s accomplished this goal is as a loyal, longtime supporter of Glenmary—most recently through his support of the Glenmary Mission and Ministries Endowment.

Before embarking at age 18 on a military career that would take him into wars in Korea and Vietnam, Bob grew up near Akron, Ohio. “My parents were both good Catholics who gave us strong values. We learned we should always share with others,” he says.

“Until I heard Father Frank Gardner talk about Glenmary in 1967, I didn’t know there was a religious society dedicated to U.S. home missions,” Bob says. Father Frank spoke at Fort Wainwright in Alaska, where Bob was stationed, and the two talked afterwards.

“I was really struck by his passion and the fact that Glenmary had made such ecumenical strides in the South,” Bob says. “The things that impressed me most about Glenmary were their dedication and perseverance in establishing home missions and reaching out to people.”

Bob made a decision on that day 42 years ago to support Glenmary. “I corresponded with Father Frank, I’ve talked to other Glenmary priests and I’ve always kept close track of Glenmary by reading their publications,” he says. “They’re out there in the trenches doing great work and sometimes almost impossible tasks—and we need to support them.”

Early in his career Bob was stationed in the South, so he understands, he says, the challenges and anti-Catholic prejudice Glenmarians may face in the counties they serve.

A war story demonstrates the importance of faith in Bob’s life. In Korea he was badly wounded, captured and abandoned in a building with 28 other injured Americans. For 16 days they went without food or medical attention. Eventually, enemy soldiers dropped Bob and fellow prisoners in front of American lines. Only one man could walk. “We were in bad shape,” he says.

As second senior officer, Bob led men in praying the rosary—on their fingers—during the ordeal. To this day he credits his and others’ survival to those prayers. “The good Lord watched over us,” he says.

Since 1967, Bob has given every year to Glenmary’s annual fund. But in 2006, he decided to join other donors in giving additional gifts each year to the Glenmary Mission and Ministries Endowment.

“A strong endowment will help make Glenmary financially stable and perpetuate its future,” says Bob. “It’s the best way to keep Glenmary’s work going for a long time.”

Twice widowed, Bob has a large family of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to whom he’s very devoted. The Petersburg, Va., resident says he wants to keep giving back to others.

“Too many people don’t do their share,” he says. He continues to support several causes, does volunteer work and speaks to groups about his military experiences.

“And I want to support Glenmary,” he says, “because I believe in what they do.”