Walters Family Foundation

Is it Better to Give A Penny than to Receive?

by Randy Unterseher Board Member

Pennies and Nickels on the Nightstand

When I was a young boy, my mother, Betty (Walters) Unterseher, would take my baby sister Marla and me to our Aunt Mary's house for weekly visits. Mom would trim Aunt Mary’s finger/toe nails (I don’t think they were called manicures in the 60’s?), freshened her makeup or just talked about the latest Hillsboro, Oregon Argus newspaper article.  At almost every visit, we knew the impending directive would come from this wise old lady (passed at 96 years of age).

The directive from Aunt Mary –

“Randy, Marla – you go into my bedroom and get what’s on the top of my nightstand!"

Now this was hard for me to do, because Aunt Mary lived in a little apartment, had polio, two canes with wrist cuffs - and I thought she was very poor. Getting money from my “poor” Aunt Mary seemed just wrong. Going into her bedroom sometimes even scared me and my sister, for some unknown reason. When I resisted her directive, she would say with authority 

“Do what I say now and remember what I’ve taught you.” 

She taught us to have manners and to say thank you, and she didn’t have to remind us but a couple times the valuable lesson of being thankful for what we received, pennies, nickels, or not.

A directive she gave my mother, at least once or twice a month

“Alright, it’s time to go to the Hillsboro A&W drive-in for a treat.” 

So, as bad as I felt about receiving the pennies and nickels from our Aunt Mary, I always knew a frosty mug of root beer or French fries would immediately wash away my feelings about receiving her change on the nightstand.

Aunt Mary always had her favorite chicken gizzards, but more importantly the A&W giant size ‘family’ figures that stood outside the drive-up became famous icons and even one was stolen at one point, which I was really upset about in my youth. 

A&W Family The A&W Family is located on the grounds of the Shute Park Aquatic and Recreation Center at the corner of SE 10th Ave. and SE Maple St. in Hillsboro, OR.   Joe Boulter, 10/01/2006  https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/1036

Against weak objections by my mom, Aunt Mary always insisted that she pay for our treat.  She was so grateful and thanked us for taking her out for a ride and getting her out to ‘see things’. Sometimes, after the sweet treats were consumed, she would ask to drive over to Glenn and Viola’s nursery, which was only a few miles from the A&W. I think just being able to give us a small treat made my Aunt Mary happier than the car ride – which came in a very close second. 

And all these years later, I’ve collected and kept those special pennies and nickels from my Aunt Mary.  Who knows, maybe I will find a lucky penny in this 300+ lb. collection!

The $204,000 Copper Penny 

Don Lutes Jr. also cherished the pennies he received and he recently re-discovered a valuable penny he had put in a safe behind a wall in his home so many years ago.  

CNN reports (1/10/2019) that “Lutes set his 1943 copper penny aside to study it later when he found it in a bundle of change in the Pittsfield High School cafeteria in 1947." 

"The Pittsfield resident was a quiet man with a small circle of friends that included fellow members of the coin and genealogy clubs he belonged to. A widower, he volunteered at a local organization. The library named a volunteer of the year award after him.” And the library meant just as much to Lutes.   Lutes wanted the proceeds from the sale of his prized penny to go to the library ... " 

"Lutes' prized possession fetched a pretty penny - $204,000 - after a live auction at the Florida United Numismatics convention in Orlando, FL. Heritage Auctions, which is overseeing the sale, estimates the coin is worth at least $170,000.”

Read more about the 1943 copper penny from the United States Mint.

What a selfless act of kindness Lutes showed by donating the $204,000 lucky penny to his local community library. Whether or not you have pennies and nickels on your nightstand, stashed away in a drawer, or stored in a shoebox, how can they be used to give back to your community? And how can the Walters Family Foundation help you?  Join our family and let the Walters Family Foundation help you pass on the blessing knowing that your $1, $10, $100 $1,000 or any amount you can give will continue the tradition of giving and receiving.