UMCOR / News Room / News & Features / Archives 2009 / 0505 - Remarkable Michigan Woman Remembers Relief Agency in Will

Remarkable Michigan Woman Remembers Relief Agency in Will

NEW YORK, May 5, 2009—"A remarkable, independent and generous woman," is how Rev. Cathi Gowin describes Anne Ryckman, a deceased parishioner at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids, Mich. A lifetime and active member of St. Paul's, Ryckman was known for her quiet acts of generosity throughout her life.

A successful business woman and faithful United Methodist, Ryckman left a generous portion of her estate in the amount of $1.7 million to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). She died on April 8, 2007.

"We are so blessed and humbled that Ms. Ryckman remembered UMCOR in this way," says Sam Dixon, UMCOR's top executive. Dixon is working closely with St. Paul's church to ensure Ryckman's wishes are carried out in the use of the funds.

The Ryckman Fund

Ryckman's will stipulates that St. Paul's approve the use of the funds. "The church is challenged and excited by the responsibility," said Rev. Gowin. "I think she wanted this to be something that not only benefits UMCOR, but also contributes to our growth as a mission church," she stated, reflecting on her contact with Ryckman. The gift to UMCOR will be used to establish a donor-directed permanent fund for UMCOR's work.

"The Ryckman Fund will provide for UMCOR's work for many, many years to come," said Dixon. "Ms. Ryckman is certainly leaving a legacy that will benefit many thousands of people around the world."

A Life Marked by Generosity

Ryckman was a partner in a successful printing business in Grand Rapids. She co-owned the business from 1943 until the death of her partner in 1979 when she took over the company until she retired in 1985. Ryckman shared her success in business and investing through her generosity to others. She made numerous, always anonymous, gifts to help with the work and ministry of St Paul's and provide support to members of her church family in times of need.

Ryckman contributed to the life of the church in many ways. "Every Thanksgiving she would play "Bless This House" on her violin," remembers Ellsworth (Wassy) Vail, who knew her for many years. He also recalls her homemade hot fudge that was ever-present at church ice cream socials.

Ryckman was a member of United Methodist Women and active on several church committees throughout her lifetime. Vail recounts their service together on the building committee while the church was constructing a new building. "She was always pushing us to do things," he says.

St. Paul's United Methodist Church

Approximately 200 people come to worship at St. Paul's UMC each Sunday. The two morning services seek to meet the spiritual needs of the changing community surrounding the church and the church's longtime members. "St Paul's has always had a strong heart for mission," explains Rev. Gowin.

The church has found innovative ways to reach out to their community, including an outreach called "Bus Stop Buddies." Church volunteers stand with children at a particular local bus stop each morning. The 45 youngsters are in kindergarten through fifth grades. Volunteers bring mittens and scarves for any of the children who might not have them and provide a presence to prevent bullying and protection from strangers.


UMCOR is the not-for-profit global humanitarian aid organization of the United Methodist Church. UMCOR is working in more than 80 countries worldwide, including the United States. Our mission, grounded in the teachings of Jesus, is to alleviate human suffering-whether caused by war, conflict or natural disaster, with open hearts and minds to all people.

UMCOR responds to natural or civil disasters that are interruptions of such magnitude that they overwhelm a community's ability to recover on its own.