Note: This first appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of Focus.
When John and Gina Erb sat down to make their estate plans, they had a single goal in mind: to help their community. "The community is our family," Gina said.
"We’ve both been very fortunate in our lives, and this is one way to give back for everything that has been given to us," John said.
The Erbs moved to Gills Pier near Northport in 1998 after John retired from his Chicago law practice, where he specialized in civil litigation. Their plans to retire in northern Michigan accelerated when John developed a heart condition at age 52.
"That long term plan was definitely affected by our knowledge and experience with the excellent health care available here, both on the Leelanau Peninsula and in Traverse City," he said. "We enjoyed excellent health care in Chicago, but we can honestly say that the professional, convenient, friendly care and attention we enjoy here is even better. We wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else."
The Erbs quickly adapted to the rhythms of northern Michigan, from protecting fragile environments to maintaining health care services. John serves as president of the Leelanau Conservancy and Gina is president of Saving Birds Thru Habitat, a group working to stem the decline of migratory songbird populations by encouraging native plantings.
Why Support Munson?
The Erbs included a significant gift to Munson Healthcare in their estate plans. "Supporting health care represents a long-term commitment to something we believe in," John said. "I’ve had the good fortune to volunteer at Munson and work with dedicated, skilled, loving professionals who throw everything they have into their work. I am so happy to support them in any way I can."
A former Leelanau Memorial Health Center board chair, John now serves as vice-chairman of the Munson Medical Center Board of Trustees. He chairs the Advocacy Committee, and serves on the board’s Quality, Governance, Strategic Planning, Executive Development, and Compliance committees, as well as Munson’s Patient Safety Council.
"I’ve completely failed at retirement," he said.
"It is very easy to give from your estate," John said. "Just ask yourself, ‘What can I do that will benefit the things I believe in and benefit the people and places I love when I’m gone?’ If you plan your estate appropriately, it is a simple way to provide for yourself and also for the things you want to support."
"The biggest transfer of wealth from one generation to the next is happening right now," he added. "It brings a responsibility to use some of that prosperity to ensure that the institutions we’ve built will be there for future generations, as they have been for us."