July 17, 2018
When people ask Bill and Melinda Gates why they give their money away, Bill Gates often cites two reasons: to support meaningful work and to have fun doing it.
El Pasoan Albert R. Haag, known by everyone in town simply as Al, had the same philosophy. Al attended the University of Notre Dame and graduated from Northwestern University. In 1957, he began to explore his entrepreneurial passion and moved to El Paso to found Haag Tractor Company and later own and operate Stepco, Inc. In his free time, Al was always involved in the community. He served as vice president for membership of the Sun Carnival Association, was director of the Industrial Development Board of El Paso, served as a past president of Our Lady’s Youth Center, and was on an advisory board for Loretto Academy and Hotel Dieu Hospital. But Al didn’t stop there! He also remained a faithful and active member of Queen of Peace Catholic Church, and always gave generously and anonymously.
Although Al led a very busy and successful life, he, like everyone, was also met with challenges in his life. Throughout Al’s lifetime, he buried his loving wife of 57 years, Betty, and regrettably, three of their five children as well. In spite of these trying times, his convictions never faltered, and he continued to live life through his Catholic faith and with a smile on his face.
Near the end of his life, Al shared with the Foundation’s major gifts officer that he was leaving “something” for retired priests. Following his death on May 2, 2016, the Catholic Foundation was surprised to learn that Al had bequeathed a large and magnanimous donation for the Retired Priest Appreciation Fund.
Al and 197 Retired Priest Appreciation Fund donors are making it possible for priests in retirement to receive assistance with things like modest housing, basic living expenses, and access to medical and dental care. Since this fund’s inception in 2001, the Catholic Foundation’s goal has been to build the Retired Priest Appreciation Fund to $5 million. With Al’s donation and those made in his memory, the fund has now met $1.6 million of the goal.
In this way, Al’s memory continues. This kindness is not giving back but rather, paying it forward. By helping those who have served a lifetime of helping others, Al and every donor like him, are reassuring those who serve that they are not alone. They too are looked after. In this way, bringing joy to those needing help brings joy to those helping.
See, to live life to the fullest, as Al did, is to pursue one's passions, spend time helping your community, and contributing your resources to the needs of others. Al gave generously of his time and resources because in doing so, he found a sense of purpose which kept him motivated and full of life. Sometimes the simplicity of accomplishing contentment is lost on us because it seems difficult. The gift of giving can be misinterpreted as a gesture exclusive to the wealthy. However, most gifts in wills are made by ordinary, hardworking people who want to continue to make a difference in their community long after their presence has come to pass.
Ultimately, the crux of Al’s life stands true for everyone and is a living testament to Bill Gates’s nugget of wisdom, be it time, money, knowledge or all three, giving is a choice we have the power to act on. And to choose to be selfless is the most rewarding choice of all.
A gift to the Church from your will is a gesture of love and faith for which you’ll always be remembered.
To learn how you can use your will to help strengthen the future of the Catholic Church, contact Major Gifts Officer Sofía Larkin at (915) 872-8412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.