Every year, area youth groups gather to celebrate Christmas and the enduring gift of Alfred Bromelsick.
Today there are few people alive who can remember Alfred Bromelsick.
But the gift he left almost 50 years ago continues to delight area children.
A trust created by the former banker and farmer before his death still underwrites one of Lawrence's most long-lived Christmas traditions.
This year, more than 1,000 area children are expected to attend the annual Bromelsick Christmas party, which will be in Kansas University's Lied Center and feature Russian performer Sergei Shapobal. The party begins at 2 p.m. Saturday.
"A friend and I were discussing Bromelsick the other day, and she reminded me that it isn't what you do for yourself but what you do for others that will be remembered after you're gone," said Martha Rose, who sits on the Bromelsick Christmas committee as a representative of area Girls Scouts.
As his health deteriorated in 1950, Bromelsick, a sportsman and outdoor enthusiast, rushed to complete the specifics of his trust.
Each year, the main benefactors of his estate, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and 4-H members, come together for the party.
Even though it is a requirement of his will that an annual party be held to honor him, the Bromelsick Christmas committee, which includes representatives from Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and 4-H, still enjoy planning the event, Rose said.
"Each organization has a different responsibility each year," she said. "We rotate. This year, (Girl Scouts) are in charge of the publicity and putting up the two Christmas trees. Boy scouts are taking care of the treats and 4-H coordinated the program for this year entitled 'Cultural Kaleidoscope.'"
About 1,300 people are expected to enjoy the festivities, Rose said.
"It is free," she said, "but they need to get a ticket."
Bromelsick, who died at 72, never married and had no heirs. He followed his father into the banking business and managed farming enterprises in the Kaw River Valley and did quite well for his time, amassing between $100,000 and $150,000.
Born in 1878, he grew up with "enjoyment for the outdoors," Rose said. "He was an outstanding baseball player in his youth. He also appreciated nature while hunting and fishing. Later, he took up golf and radio became his hobby."
When he died alone he wanted to ensure the youth of Douglas County had the opportunity to experience nature, she said. The trust he created is for youth organizations that promote outdoor activities.
-- Donna Bergmann's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.