Legacies Come In All Shapes And Sizes

Second Lieutenant Marjorie J. Rock, U.S. Army Nurse Corps, 1942. Ms. Rock retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel in 1970 and made St. Lawrence County her home.

BY: Rande Richardson
“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin

In the small St. Lawrence County town of DePeyster, Marjorie Rock spent the early years of her life on her family’s farm. After graduating from high school in nearby Heuvelton, she took the path of helping others. Her pursuit of a career in nursing would blend teaching and military service. Rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel, she retired from Army service with honors. Over the course of time, she developed a deep passion for and interest in education and history. The church was an important part of her life. 

    I am humbled and honored to have been in her presence more than once as she thoughtfully contemplated the canvas she would paint for her legacy. With time, the brushstrokes became more defined. While she had traveled the world, St. Lawrence County was always where her heart called home. She recognized that her love of history could be extended to help support the long-term preservation and appreciation of significant historic properties within the county. It was natural that she would have a desire to help make the lives of military veterans better. Marjorie passed away in 2017. This year, and every year thereafter, her story will be told in the causes the Rock Charitable Fund will support. She has provided others with one type of legacy. 

    The imprint you leave, the evidence of your time spent on this earth; legacies come in many forms. How have you touched the lives of others, who have you shared your experience and wisdom with, how is the world different for you having been in it? Our legacies live in our children and grandchildren, our families and friends, students, colleagues and organizations. Within those legacies, our stories are told. What mattered to us? What defined us? How did we want our values perpetuated when we could no longer personally impart them? 

    Legacies need not be immense to be profound. If one life touches something or someone else there is a legacy. What is left behind is not always monetary, although that is often an expression of our priorities, wishes and beliefs. What becomes of the things we have accumulated? Most likely, they are entrusted to our families, friends, charitable interests or a combination. Thoughtful planning helps ensure that the IRS is last in line. 

    The Community Foundation has the amazing honor and responsibility of being the permanent steward of more than 90 years of community legacies. They represent a wide range of interests across Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties and beyond. Because our predecessors had the vision to establish a community foundation here, there has been a mechanism to make a difference in a simple, powerful, highly personalized way. The trend is to make legacies an extension of life. They continue to support our lifetime of interests. The vast majority of community foundation legacies support designated interests (such as education, health care, arts, culture, history, environment, and animal welfare), geographic (such as city, town, county and region), or for ongoing annual support of specific charities with protection from obsolescence. Some are small and others are large. They collectively weave a diverse collection of individual stories into our shared story. 

    Sometimes I hear people say that they will be forgotten 100 years from now. That may be true, but the example they set through their life story will matter and continue to inspire. These stories will continue to affect the lives of others in meaningful ways. I challenge all of us to forge a legacy that, in its own unique way, causes others to want to know your story. In 2120, someone will ask who Marjorie Rock was. They won’t have to look very far for the answer.