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What does “home” mean to you? Is it simply the place where you hang your hat? Or does the bond with a particular place and its people make the “this is home” feeling hard to shake, no matter how long you are away?

In the shadow of the regal Mission Mountains, along the rocky shores of Flathead Lake, one can find joy, peace, solace and acceptance. For many people, that intimate connection is enough to make Polson “home.” For most, the feeling is only enhanced by the kind-hearted people they meet along the way.

Winter on Flathead Lake (Photo by Ali Bronsdon)

Mildred Weber Hanson, wife of late Willett F. Weber (Bill) and later, J. Hilbert Hanson, passed away in October, leaving behind a generous gift for the Greater Polson Community Foundation. Her donation will go a long way in supporting a permanent endowment for the Polson area.

Mildred was born in the Midwest, but moved to Polson in 1959 with her first husband, Willett F. Weber (Bill), a retired mechanical engineer and officer in the Naval Reserve. After Bill’s death in 1979, Mildred went to work at the law office of Jean Turnage and C. B. McNeil. She married longtime friend J. Hilbert Hanson on Oct. 20, 2002 in Sequim, Wash., and lived there until 2012 when he passed away.

“After Hib’s death, she returned to her beloved Montana, where each day she marveled at the ever-changing beauty of Flathead Lake,” her obituary read.

A thoughtful, dignified and gentle person, Mildred loved to read and work in her yard. She had great appreciation for the English language and the written word.

“She’s lived in some of the most beautiful places in the world, but she chose to come back to Polson,” GPCF President Penny Jarecki said. “It shows the importance of a community in a person’s life.”

It shows, as well, the importance of giving back in a meaningful way. Her gift, among other things, will allow the foundation to double the amount of grants it currently awards.

In 2013, the foundation gave to noteworthy projects like the Boys and Girls Club, CASA and Mission Valley Aquatics. Over the years, more than 35 local non-profits have benefitted from philanthropy through the GPCF.

According to Cathy Cooney, Program Director with the Montana Community Foundation, Mildred’s gift is one of the largest endowments she’s heard of in this state.

“The Greater Polson Community Foundation is here to stay,” Jarecki said of the foundation, which was established in the fall of 2008.