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“We can’t pay Willy Limmer tribute at a memorial site or visit a grave and leave a flower, but the thousands of young people he helped are his tribute.”


Reverend Rick Keemss

Trustee
William Limmer Scholarship Foundation


“Willy Limmer would be proud his support opened a door in the lives of others,” said the Rev. Rick Keemss, a trustee of the former William Limmer Scholarship Foundation, which donated more than $250,000 over the past 20 years in scholarships to PCCC.
“This money touches the lives of others, and there’s no better legacy to leave.”

A German-born immigrant to the U.S., Limmer went to work in 1930 in the bustling wool mills of Passaic. Hardworking and quiet, he lived frugally, managed his own investments, and never married. When he died in 1985, at the age of 90, he had amassed a fortune of $1 million. “We were stunned,” said Keemss who was pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Passaic, where Limmer had been a faithful congregant.  Keemss and Paterson attorney Walter Hunziger were appointed caretakers of the fortune, the largest portion of which was designated in Limmer’s will for “helping young people of promise.”

Through careful management, the legacy doubled over time to $2 million. “I think Willy would have been delighted with how we took care of his money and with how many lives have been touched by his legacy,” said Keemss.  More than 1,000 students have been helped by Limmer funding and many have written letters of gratitude to Keemss that tell of their academic and professional success.  “One young woman graduated from Syracuse University at the top of her class,” the clergyman recalls.

PCCC is one of several schools that were chosen by the Limmer Foundation to receive scholarship donations over the years. “We were very impressed with the College’s programs, especially the nursing program and culinary arts,” explained Keemss.  “We feel proud of the work PCCC has done and we saw the results in the young people,” he added. In 2009, the Limmer Foundation was dissolved and its resources generously distributed. PCCC received a lump sum gift for future scholarships

Though Willy Limmer had no children during his lifetime, his memory lives on in the young people his legacy has assisted. When Limmer died, his body was cremated and the ashes committed to the sea. “We can’t pay Willy Limmer tribute at a memorial site or visit a grave and leave a flower,” said Keemss, “but the thousands of young people he helped are his tribute.”


See the interview with Rev. Keemss