May 30, 2022

The Life & Legacy of Karl Heinz Gross: How One Hamilton Man Made A Difference with a Planned Gift in his Will

When Karl Heinz Gross (“Heinz” as he was known to friends and family) immigrated to Hamilton from Germany in the ‘50s, his first job was working in the kitchen at St. Joe’s Hospital. At the time, he had no idea the Hospital would play a pivotal role in caring for his beloved daughter, nor that St. Joe’s would one day be the grateful beneficiary of a $125,000 gift through his Will.

In the years that followed, Heinz, a general labourer, would go on to help build The Black Forest Inn restaurant – a near-institution in Hamilton. A social person, he would become an active member of the Germania Club and continue his close friendship with the family behind yet another local landmark, Denninger’s Foods of the World.

Having lived a full life that included frequent travel, cottaging, and downhill skiing, when it came time to plan his legacy, Heinz turned to his longtime friend and financial advisor Rick Bashista. In 2018, the pair met over a casual meal at the West End Diner, as they usually did, and Rick gave Heinz the same valuable advice he gives to all his clients.

“As we talked about getting his affairs in order, I said to Heinz, ‘It’s not a matter of making a living, it’s a matter of making a difference,’” Rick says. “Along the way, something or someone touched your life, so what do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to give back?”

Heinz’s wife, Louise, had died 17 years earlier. And his daughter, Monika, also passed away from kidney disease in 2017 at the age of 51 – with her devoted father by her side. Monika had faced many health challenges throughout her life, and Heinz was always grateful to the Hospital and its staff for the care she received. So, when Rick posed the possibility of charitable giving through his Will, Heinz knew exactly what he wanted to do with his estate after he passed.

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 Rick Bashista and Heinz Karl Gross at the cottage. Rick was more than just Heinz’s financial advisor, he was also his longtime friend.  

“Heinz was a caring and benevolent person and I was blessed to have known him both personally and professionally,” Rick adds. “As we planned his Will and did the math, Heinz didn’t think twice about bequeathing a generous gift to St. Joe’s, among other beneficiaries, to honour the excellent care the Hospital provided to Monika.”

But before finalizing Heinz’s wishes with his lawyer, Anthony Wellenreiter, Rick had one more valuable piece of advice. He suggested Heinz meet with a representative from St. Joe’s Foundation to learn how his gift could benefit a cause near-and-dear to him – kidney care at the Hospital. That’s when they invited Lisa Gonnering, who manages estate and gift planning at St. Joe’s, to one of their regular lunches.

“For those wishing to leave a gift in their Will or estate, it can be greatly beneficial for a member of the Hospital’s Foundation to be included in financial planning meetings,” Lisa says. “Supporters can ensure their wishes are known and understood, and our Foundation can help to explain the fundraising priorities or needs within the area of the Hospital that is most meaningful to them. Not only are we thankful to Heinz for his generous donation, but we’re also grateful to Rick for helping facilitate the relationship between his dear friend and St. Joe’s so we could truly honour Heinz’s life and legacy.”

To recognize Heinz’s estate gift, and to acknowledge the care that Monika received at St. Joe’s, a commemorative plaque has been prominently placed in the kidney clinic at St. Joe’s Charlton Campus – home to Ontario’s largest renal program and second largest kidney transplant program. Learn more about leaving a legacy in your will or estate

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