Give to Walnut Hills

Thank you for your generosity!

The Living Endowment supports the lasting impact of Walnut Hills’ ministry and mission.  The Endowment consists of invested funds created by memorial gifts, estate gifts, or other gifts to WHUMC which generate income to be used for the church’s purpose(s).  Currently, the funds sustain children’s ministry, assist students with scholarships, provide encouragement and aid to those facing difficult circumstances, and improve accessibility within the church and the community.  You can contribute to any of the following funds in the Endowment by giving online here.

Amy O'Leary Scholarship Fund


Amy (December 20, 1976 to November 9, 1997)  was in her junior year at the University of Northern Iowa when she was in an automobile accident.

She grew up in West Des Moines and went to Valley High School in West Des Moines; she was active in school activities-junior varsity cheerleaders, the Treble Clefs, and the Women’s Swim Team.

Amy’s family was part of the founding membership of Walnut Hill United Methodist Church. Amy was active in Walnut Hill Church activities, the High School Youth Group, and she attended several summer church work trips. 

She was a leader in the Walnut Hills youth ministry from 1989 to 1995. 

Her family decided that a scholarship fund for graduating seniors would be a way to honor Amy’s memory and help a Walnut Hills High School senior.

In memory of Amy O’Leary’s life, a scholarship has been awarded annually since 1988 to a Walnut Hills high school senior pursuing a post secondary education.

Recipients are recognized for their leadership in the life of Walnut Hills and for outstanding character.


Daniel Lepley Fund

The Daniel Fund was established in memory of Daniel Ray Lepleya long-time member of  Walnut Hills United Methodist Church.

The mission of The Daniel Fund is to reflect Dan’s memory by lifting up children and families whose lives become disabled because of health issues, lack of education or employment skills, loss of job or shelter, and/or family separation. 

Dan loved the church and its people. He was a son, brother, uncle, nephewcousin and friend. He loved family and family gatherings. He made many friends on the downtown skywalks of Des Moines where he lived, including the homeless, national caucus participants, coffee kiosk visitors, and many others. The Iowa Cubs, Chicago Cubs and Bears and as well as the Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Lakers always warranted a call to a friend or family member. He was the son of Bill & Ginny Lepley and brother of Lori.

He inspired our lives by how he faced life each day with a “can do spirit”!

The Daniel Fund seeks to provide financial assistance as a tool to those identified with the purpose of providing encouragement, hope, optimism, and the will to rise above the disability or life situation encountered. These characteristics reflect the life that Dan led and inspired in others. A secondary purpose of The Daniel fund is to increase handicap access to the programs of Walnut Hills United Methodist Church.

Jeannie Kuskulis Fund

Kathryn Jean “Jeannie” Kuskulis (July 27, 1942 – June 26, 2008) grew up in Ankeny, Iowa and graduated in 1960.  Jeannie married Dave Kuskulis in 1965.  Jeannie loved spending time with family and friends.  Being the youngest of three, she enjoyed a close and loving relationship with her older siblings, Dorothy Mally and Robert McRae and loved spending time with her four nephews, three nieces and many, many great-nieces and great-nephews.  

But Jeannie’s family and love of children went far beyond her siblings and relatives.  Jeannie spent 30 years of her career managing the office of two Obstetrics/Gynecology physicians.  For a woman who never had children of her own, Jeannie loved being able to support the thousands of patients she met over the years.  Jeannie held and fussed over every newborn that came to the office with their mothers.  Every mom who walked out of the office believed she had given birth to the most beautiful baby on earth – because that’s how Jeannie saw them and treated them.  

In her spare time, Jeannie loved crafts and enjoyed ceramics and painting.  Jeannie was a founding member of the Potpourri Painters, who was the organizer of the Craft House, a popular attraction at the Iowa State Fair for many years.  One year, she earned a blue ribbon at the Fair for her tole painting artwork entry.  

Jeannie and her husband, Dave, spent many years traveling and collecting antiques, glassware, and china. For a few years, they owned and operated Yesterday’s Memories, an antique store in Des Moines.  

Long before Walnut Hills was built, Jeannie attended Glen Echo Christian Church where she and Dave served as wedding coordinators for many years. 

Unfortunately, Jeannie battled many illnesses over the years which led to kidney failure and loss of vision.  Always the eternal optimist, Jeannie remained active and involved with friends and family irrespective of her declining health. 

As her health continued to fail, Jeannie relocated to West Des Moines to be near her older sister, Dorothy, and they both became very involved with Walnut Hills.  They spent many hours answering phones and helping in the office.  Jeannie especially enjoyed seeing and hearing the activities of the Walnut Hills Daycare children while she was volunteering.

Jeannie passed away on June 26, 2008, following complications from a kidney transplant.  Jeannie left a portion of her estate to create an endowment fund at Walnut Hills. Jeannie’s family and Walnut Hills staff agreed that, given Jeannie’s lifelong love of children, an appropriate memorial would be to fund the building of the children’s playground at WHUMC. The fund continues to be used to support the church’s ministry and infrastructure.

Kay Swaim Wilson Memorial Fund

The Kay Swaim Wilson Memorial Fund was established in 2023 by Kay’s husband to honor her life and to continue her positive impact on those around her.  The perpetual fund provides ongoing financial support of the children’s programs (for pre-k through 5th grade) of Walnut Hills United Methodist Church (WHUMC).  All gifts to the Fund are to be retained and only its income is to be used for the programs.

Who was Kay?

Kay Lynn Swaim Wilson (October 18, 1947 – March 9, 2023) grew up in Drakesville, Iowa and graduated from Davis County High School in 1965.  She married Lonny Wilson in 1968, and they had two daughters, Sarah and Laura.  Family was Kay’s number one priority and she loved spending time together, especially with her three grandchildren, Anna, Quinn, and Kieran.  She also enjoyed traveling with Lonny, being with her many friends, playing games, solving puzzles, and rooting for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Kay received her B.A. degree in elementary education from the University of Iowa in 1969.  She began her teaching career that year and it spanned over four decades, primarily teaching fourth grade in the Oskaloosa Community School District.  Although she retired from full-time teaching in 2004, she continued as a substitute teacher for several years as well as a volunteer teacher of English as a second language.  A voracious reader, Kay loved learning and teaching; combined with her natural love and patience for young children, this made her an exceptionally good educator.

Kay’s role as an educator was not limited to children in public schools.  Of course, she guided the growth of her own children and grandchildren, but as a life-long member of the United Methodist Church, she also taught children in Sunday School and in Vacation Bible School, primarily in Oskaloosa.  But even in retirement, after moving to West Des Moines in 2016 and joining WHUMC, Kay volunteered in VBS.  She was always an active member of the local congregation, serving on various church committees, discussion groups, work projects, and outreach activities.

Her endowed memorial fund that supports the children’s programs at WHUMC is a fitting tribute to a woman who spent most of her adult life engaged in the education of young children.

Pat Coover (TLC) Scholarship Fund

Patricia (“Pat”) Terhune was born March 23, 1946 in New Jersey.  She married Ed Coover on September 3, 1966.  They had two children – Trisha (12/25/74) and Tami (5/22/78).  The family moved around the U.S., but settled in West Des Moines, IA in 1989 and soon found a church home when Walnut Hills Methodist Church was still meeting at the Western Hills Elementary School.  Ed and Pat were faithful participants in the church, attending regularly and joining several committees and attending council meetings.  Trisha & Tami both helped in childcare on Sunday mornings and were involved with Youth Group.  Pat was dedicated to her family and was our biggest cheerleader, supporting everyone in our activities.  

When Pat was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, the church took care of her and our family – it was our turn to support her now.  She was so appreciative of the friendships formed with other church members.  These were lifelong friends who offered ongoing support during her 5-year battle with cancer.  They checked in on her and let her know she was loved and supported, even after a move to WI.  After she passed away on November 17, 2000, we wanted to create a scholarship in her honor.  The scholarship through Walnut Hills UMC was selected because of our appreciation of the church supporting her and our family when it was needed most and because of the friends established here, particularly through the youth program.  We saw a need to provide assistance to youth who are looking to grow in their Christian capacity as they pursue a college education.  One requirement of the scholarship is that the recipient continue some kind of service while in school.  The family would like to encourage others in the church who may be looking for ways to contribute to consider donating to this fund so that there are always enough funds to support recipients through 4 years of college.