If you’ve lived in Princeton for a while, you’ve likely met George Kassa. He called the small town home for 83 years, and until his death in 2014, put his heart into his community.
“My dad was extremely proud of Princeton,” says Kassa’s son, Bryan. “Even in his final years, he was at the museum a couple times a week going through old photos and identifying people, places and events.”
Now Bryan is carrying on his father’s legacy by setting up a $10,000 endowment fund through the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen (CFSOS). The money will be used to support community groups in Princeton.
“I’ve been a director of the Shuswap Community Foundation for six years, and I’ve seen the benefits,” says Bryan, a Salmon Arm resident. “The grants we give go a long way to enhancing the quality of life in our community, and I know dad would want the same in Princeton.”
George Kassa was born in 1926 in Czechoslovakia. Three years later, his family moved to the Princeton area where his father worked for Canadian Pacific. Kassa later met his wife Eva, a nurse in town, and secured a position with the highways department as a heavy duty mechanic.
Bryan says his parents were down-to-earth, working-class people. They also believed in community involvement. “Princeton felt like home. My dad knew everyone, and everyone knew him. He felt a sense of responsibility to give back.”
Kassa was part of the volunteer fire department for more than three decades. In 1959, he helped open the Princeton Credit Union and served as its president for 12 years. “At one point, he volunteered to be a guarantor for the community’s new ambulance,” Bryan laughs. “I don’t think mom was too happy but that’s who dad was.” In the last year of his life, Kassa also volunteered at the Museum.
Bryan hopes this donation will spark more interest in Princeton, and encourage those who are estate planning to consider the CFSOS. The foundation invests donations, and distributes grants each year using the interest generated. Donors can make a general donation or specify a community or group where they would like their money to go. Bryan and his wife Patti will be contributing more money to his father and mother’s fund in the future.
“Many people leave money in their wills for a specific project, and while that may be an important cause, once the money has been spent, that’s it,” says Bryan. “On the flip side, by donating to the Community Foundation, you are contributing to an endowment fund that operates in perpetuity, spinning off investment income for new grants each year. Long after I’m gone, dad’s fund will keep going.”