Walter E. Schirmer, Sr. was President of Clark Equipment, headquartered in Buchanan, starting in 1963. He was one of the four founders of the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation in 1978, where he established two permanent endowment funds, the Walter E. Schirmer Memorial Scholarship, and the Walter E. Schirmer Fund for the Buchanan Library. He had a deep love and concern for his community, rooted in very traditional values. He was devoted to serving Buchanan and he encouraged his Clark employees to do so as well.
His legacy was not lost on his son, Walt, Jr. Wally, as he was known, established his own fund in 1994 with the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, through which many community organizations and projects have received support. In October of 2015, he discussed his estate plan with the Foundation from which, over the last months of his life, emerged the concept for a new and exciting idea called a promise scholarship.
Promise programs seek to transform communities by making a long term investment in education through place based scholarships. They work to expand access to and ensure success in higher education, deepen the college going culture in both the K-12 system and community as a whole, and support local community economic development.
Walter E. Schirmer, Jr enthusiastically endorsed this concept for the Buchanan community, his hometown. His permanently endowed gift to Michigan Gateway Community Foundation will have a significant positive impact on future generations in Buchanan, continuing the legacy established by his father years ago.