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Schwanke, farmer from Willmar, Minn., leaves $1M estate to Nature Conservancy

WILLMAR -- A Willmar man who farmed in Swift and Kandiyohi counties has left his $1 million estate to The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy announced today that Herbert Schwanke, who died in February 2011, gave his entire estate for land conservation. The funds will be used to protect the grasslands and wetlands of the Ordway Prairie in Pope County.

According to Schwanke's obituary, published in the Tribune, he grew up in Willmar, Glenwood and DeGraff and graduated from Murdock High School in 1954 before farming in Swift County. He also did custom farm work with his father and was employed by Tyler Manufacturing in Benson during the winter months. He moved to a farm north of Willmar in the 1990s. He was survived by his neighbors, friends, cousins and other relatives. He had been preceded in death by his parents and his special friend, Helen Zimmer, in 2009.

"Herb was a solitary man and a deep thinker," said Geri Krueger, the personal representative chosen by Schwanke for his estate, "who took his stewardship of the land very seriously. Herb and Helen felt it was important for people to experience the land, especially those of us who live in cities and might not have as many opportunities to enjoy the outdoors."