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Surprises in the Sorrow

How one member impacted his local community through his Catholic Order of Foresters life insurance policy


When Tom Honzay of St. Anthony 1061, Bird Island, Minnesota, passed away last fall, his family and St. Mary Catholic School did not know they were about to be connected. Years ago, Honzay purchased a policy that included a Fraternal Legacy Rider, a rider available on certain Catholic Order of Foresters’ life insurance policies1. Tom’s Fraternal Legacy Rider left $12,500 to St. Mary Catholic School2; an amount that provided more than the school could have imagined.

On March 6, Catholic Order of Foresters Agents Brian Marketon and Larry Poppler, along with Tom’s family and members of St. Anthony 1601, travelled to St. Mary’s in Bird Island to present the check at an assembly. All the students gathered in the gym to hear stories of Tom’s generosity.

Tracy Bertrand Sigurdson, principal of St. Mary, said she was “shocked into total silence” when she heard the school would receive the benefit. “Tom was an amazing community member for both the parish and the school,” said Tracy. “But we had no idea he did this.”

Brian added, “While you hate getting the call that someone has passed away, it provides some reprieve to say, ‘look at the legacy they’re leaving in their community.’ It’s another way to see they’re not really gone. They’re helping from above now.”

When asked what the family would like the school to use the money for, Tom’s daughter, Jennifer Abrahamson, had an idea in mind. “It has to be something fun,” she said. “That’s what he would have wanted. Something science-y, maybe!”

Tom’s son, Matt Honzay, replied, “If they can build something like rockets or other projects, that would be perfect.”

The school staff decided to use the funds to update their STEM program. Sharon Honzay, Tom’s widow, said that while nothing makes losing Tom easier, “It’s a great relief to know he can still bring so much joy.”

1A rider added to your life insurance policy allowing Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) to pay one or more qualifying Catholic charities a death benefit on your behalf, in addition to your named beneficiary(ies) receiving their designated death benefit. Subject to terms and conditions. Not available in all states. 2COF will pay an amount equal to 5.0% of the eligible policy face amount. Fraternal Legacy Rider beneficiary(ies) must be an organization whose principles are consistent with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and approved by COF. 

Article by Kaitlynrose Bicek.

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