Historical documents often uncover a surprise. That’s what happened at Meals on Wheel, Bluffton-Hilton Head recently.

While going through old agency minutes, it was discovered that in 2010, Meals on Wheels, Bluffton-Hilton Head was one of four local charities that received a bequest from a prominent member of our community and a military giant. Maj. Gen. Joseph E. Bastion, Jr., known as “Eddie,” left a legacy that still has an impact today. Eddie lived at The Seabrook on Hilton Head Island in his senior years, and passed away in 2009.

According to his obituary in local papers, “His distinguished army career took him to all parts of the world. In June 1942, he was assigned to the General Staff Headquarters, 11 Army Corps. This assignment took him to England and then to Allied Planning Forces Headquarters for the invasion of North Africa. Then, in 1945, he became secretary to Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, then Supreme Allied Commander. 

“After attending the National War College, Gen. Bastion was assigned to the 7th Infantry Division in Korea where he served as Chief of Staff. In September 1958, Gen. Bastion became Assistant Division Commander, 4th Armored Division in Germany. Later, in 1960, he became Chief of Staff and Deputy Commanding General, V Corps, USAREUR. 

“Upon his return to the United States Gen. Bastion became the Commanding General of the US Army Training Center, Armor, at Fort Knox, Kentucky, and then the Commandant of the Armor School at Fort Knox. During his distinguished Army Career, Eddie was decorated by five countries other than the United States.”

His estate was divided among four local charities and each charity received more than $200,000. For Meals on Wheels, operating with a very small budget, this bequest was and is still felt today.

This year, the agency received another bequest, for $25,000.

“We often don’t know our agency is a recipient, so when we receive the notice we are both delighted and surprised,” said Joe Scalzo, chair of the board. 

Leaving a bequest to a nonprofit can create a legacy that is felt many years after the gift is received and might result in some tax advantages.

“We encourage people who name a nonprofit, especially Meals on Wheels, Bluffton-Hilton Head, in their will, to let us know,” said Lili Coleman, executive director. “We would love to keep you informed on how much that gift will impact the agency.”  

Of course, Coleman said, the will is not binding and can be changed during the person’s lifetime.

Maj. Gen. Bastion’s bequest represented more than 44,400 meals for local seniors and homebound clients. That was well over two years’ worth in 2010 – and more than the volume of meals delivered in 2022. 

The numbers in 2022 will reach 36,000 meals provided to seniors and homebound neighbors by the end of the year and is expected to grow to 40,000 in 2023. These are hot, nutritious meals delivered Monday through Friday in Bluffton, Hilton Head and in Sun City to more than 200 clients by more than 214 volunteers.

Maj. Gen. Bastion wanted his gift to be directed to local charities that he felt made a difference. His gifts to our country and to this community are well remembered 12 years later.