“I’ve had a good life, so I can’t complain at all,” Bob Karlstrand tells Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE 11.
Karlstrand’s positive attitude comes in spite of his circumstance: The 65-year-old Vietnam War veteran has battled colon cancer and is currently facing a terminal lung disease.
An only child who never married and never had children, Karlstrand is preparing for the end of his life with a remarkable gesture: He’s willing his Maple Grove, Minnesota, home of 38 years to Habitat for Humanity, with the only stipulation being that it has to go to a veteran.
Karlstrand has been giving his things away for some time. Most of his appliances and furnishings are gone, right down to his living room carpet. “Most of the things I can remember having,” he said. “Maybe some pictures I’ll keep but in the end it’s only material things.”
Habitat for Humanity will rehab Karlstrand’s home and help a new family move in. “It’s a real legacy for a family and we’re really grateful,” Susan Haigh, a spokeswoman for the charity, told KARE.
That’s hardly the extent of Karlstrand’s generosity, though. A graduate of the University of Minnesota’s business school, he wanted to give back to his alma mater, though he chose a different department to reward.
“Over the years, I’ve been very fortunate to know a lot of nurses. Well, maybe not so fortunate to know a lot nurses,” Karlstrand said. So he decided to donate his retirement fund to the school’s nursing program. And it’s hardly loose change in a coffee can: Karlstrand’s $1 million endowment to the school provided six scholarships this year and will continue to do so in the years ahead.
Karlstrand won’t live to see every person his generosity has touched, but he’s not dwelling on that. “The fact that I know they are going to be helped is good enough for me,” he said.