Dakota resident leaves life savings for fire department

Eleanor Sanford wills $140,000

Published On: Nov 27 2012 09:01:37 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 28 2012 07:36:22 AM CST
DAKOTA, Minn. -

The Dakota Fire Department was surprised with a very generous gift earlier this month.

Long-time resident Eleanor Sanford willed almost everything she had to the department, cementing her legacy in the town as a local legend.

Known to her many friends at the "Queen of Dakota," Sanford passed away in September at the age of 99.

"I've heard of $5,000 here or $10,000 there but to get this kind of money is hard to believe," said Fire Chief Scott Hoeg.

"It is big," he added.

How big? $140,000 big.

In fact, that would fund the budget for the all-volunteer fire department for almost the next decade. The money, however, is going to be saved for a new firetruck or EMS vehicle.

"If we are fortunate enough to get a new truck, we're going to name her Eleanor," said Hoeg.

The 99-year-old was a widow with no children. Friends say she had decided to give every dollar she had left to the community she called home.

"She didn't want anybody to really know about it until it was done," said Signe Cone, a long-time friend of Sanford.

Cone knew the fire department would be receiving a windfall but she had no idea just how large it would be.

"She really loved the community and was very much apart of the history," said Cone.

Sanford once donated $1,000 to help Dakota's first responders squad get up and running. Friends say she wanted to support those who volunteer to help others.

"I think it just shows what a giving and thoughtful person she was," said Cone.

In a community of 300-some residents, a donation of this size will be the talk of the town for quite awhile. Friends say Eleanor would have liked that.

"Very generous. Can't thank her enough," said Hoeg.

Eleanor Sanford will also be remembered as someone who liked to have fun. Friends say they will miss dressing up with her for their regular tea parties.