ACRES Receives Surprise $1 Million Gift

Mar 12, 2015

The estate of Fort Wayne man Robert E. Pence awarded a $1 million gift to ACRES Land Trust this week. While Pence was an outdoors enthusiast, ACRES staff say they never met him.
Credit Courtesy / Steve Linsenmayer

ACRES Land Trust announced this week it received a surprise gift of one million dollars from the estate of a Fort Wayne man.

The trust was founded in 1960 with a mission to acquire land to create nature preserves.

The bequest comes from the estate of Robert E. Pence, a former tool maker, computer technician, and lifelong nature enthusiast. Pence died in 2012.

Heather Barth with ACRES says the million dollar gift was a complete surprise, and is both generous and unique, in that it doesn’t have any strings attached.

The unrestricted money allows the organization to bolster its endowment, which she says will help secure ACRES’ future.

“We’ve always talked about ‘forever.’ ACRES has always promised never to sell, divide, or develop a nature preserve,” Barth said. “And now we’re finally able to back that financially, and it’s a huge milestone for the organization.”

With the endowment secure for now, Barth says ACRES will be able to continue its focus on land acquisitions.

The organization currently cares for about 5,700 acres of land, with an aim to grow to 7,500 acres by 2017.