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Donor Spotlight - Cheryl and Dee Anstett

By JoAnna Ness, Dec 4 2018 01:57PM

Dee and Cheryl Anstett have been proud community members for decades. Cheryl moved to Steuben County when she was ten years old, and Dee grew up in Pleasant Lake. They were married after Cheryl graduated from high school, and this month marks their 56th wedding anniversary. Dee worked with Pleasant Lake Schools for 40 years as a custodian and doing maintenance, then he worked on the ground crew for ten years. “He would walk to school when no one else wanted to be there, shoveling snow or clearing driveways,” said Cheryl. Dee’s family owned a variety of businesses over the years, and Dee learned many different skills from working with family. He helped make vaults, septic tanks, concrete blocks, and delivered gas and oil to homeowners and farmers with his dad.

Likewise, Cheryl worked hard as a teacher. “When I started teaching, I’d get there at 7:30 and leave at 7:30 every night,” she said. Cheryl taught at Prairie Heights for many years, focusing on elementary students. She organized a variety of programs, like a writing program to help kids relate books to their own life. Cheryl has done everything, from recess duty to pulling books in the library for kids to choose, but she liked teaching 4th grade the best because she loves history. Cheryl went to Tri-State (now Trine University) for her undergraduate degree, and she completed her masters at IU in Fort Wayne. When looking back at her career, she said proudly, “I know I was a tough teacher, but today so many of those kids have great jobs!”

Cheryl retired in 2006, so she called Oren Skinner and talked to him about her idea for creating a non-traditional scholarship. She was firm in how she wanted to set it up. “This is what I want to do, in a totally unique way,” she explained. “Sometimes you get started on a goal in life, and all the sudden, something comes up and you don’t have the money to go through that last year. So I started the scholarship with a little money I had, and I added along the way to build the fund.” Cheryl’s scholarship supported 3 students last year. “My goal is that with the little bit of money that I’m able to give, these students can finish up their careers.” She shared a favorite story of a former scholarship recipient, who began working on her degree and then married and started a family. When things in her life changed and she wanted to go back to school, she was trying to finish up her last semester while working part time. She kept in touch with Cheryl after receiving the scholarship, and Cheryl still remembers when this student wrote to her saying, “I’ve made it.”

Dee and Cheryl are both generous with their time as well. For 33 years, Dee was part of the fire department, and he spent twenty years on the advisory board for Steuben Township. Dee has been active in the Lions Club for 50 years, and he also helped start Pleasant Lake Days, coordinating with other small communities in Steuben County to avoid overlapping festival dates. Cheryl helped revive the kid bike and pet parade and still organizes it every year. The couple is active with their church, cooking meals for the youth group, and they are always ready to spend time visiting with people. Although they both have their own philanthropic goals, Cheryl’s scholarship and Dee’s support of the Pleasant Lake Fund, SCCF is able to serve at the center of their charitable acts and gifts of time, talent and treasure to Steuben County.