Gift through Trust

Major Bequest Gift to Catholic Relief Services

John Armbruster lived a simple life in Independence, Missouri. When he was a teenager, he joined the military, and during World War II served as a navigator flying missions along the East Coast and into the Caribbean looking for submarines.

Mr. Armbruster had planned on spending his career in the military, but returned home to Missouri in the 1950s to care for his ailing mother. He worked as an engineer in the plastics industry, and was associated with a few patents, such as designs for plastic containers.

He had one love of his life, a woman he met while he was in the military, and he regretted not marrying her. He never found another love or married, and had little family. He cared for his mother until her death, and lived in the home in Independence that his father and uncle built. He was dedicated to his local parish, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

Mr. Armbruster began working with U.S. Bank in 1955 to create a trust, and in the following years he received investment guidance. His wealth was generated by early investments and a true “buy and hold” strategy—along with a very frugal lifestyle.

In 2006, Mr. Armbruster had a discussion with his representative at the bank about what he wanted to do with his money. He was deeply moved by the poverty he witnessed in the Caribbean during the war, and wanted to support a Catholic organization helping people in the region. His banker did a Google search and came across Catholic Relief Services. Mr. Armbruster had never made a gift to CRS before and had no personal connection to the agency. He relied on the research and suggestion of his professional advisor.

Thanks to that recommendation, Mr. Armbruster designated CRS as the residual beneficiary of his total estate, which CRS has currently assigned an accrual value of $13.2 million. He was motivated by his desire to support an agency that worked in the Caribbean, but his gift is unrestricted. He also provided for his parish and diocese, and some friends who cared for him in his last years.

Mr. Armbruster died on December 5, 2016, at the age of 92. His legacy will live on in the lives touched by his generosity.