Community Foundation of Henderson County Announces 2021 Sauer and Marlow Award Recipients

Hendersonville, N.C., December 8, 2021 – Community Foundation of Henderson County has announced the recipients of their 2021 Richard C. and Vina L. Sauer Charitable Leadership Award and Dorothy Dellinger “Dot” Marlow Philanthropic Catalyst Award. The 2021 awardees were interviewed about their philanthropy and volunteerism. A highlight film of each recipient’s interview can be accessed at and

“We are proud to honor the legacies of Richard and Vina Sauer and Dot Marlow through these awards each year,” says Community Foundation President and CEO McCray Benson. “I think it helps us in every generation to have an example of a permanent testimony as to what individuals can do and how we can make a difference. It inspires us to leave our own important legacy.”

Community Foundation’s eldest award – the Richard C. and Vina L. Sauer Charitable Leadership Award –honors the generosity of a husband and wife team who supported many local charities during their lifetimes, and then left the first $1 million unrestricted gift to Community Foundation of Henderson County as a planned gift. Their endowment, along with other gifts, provides resources to numerous causes throughout Henderson County.

The 2021 Richard C. and Vina L. Sauer Charitable Leadership Award was presented to Dirk and Paige Willms who have been benevolently involved in Henderson County since retiring from Chicago. The Willms connected with Community Foundation in 2002 through volunteer committee service and eventually established their own charitable giving funds that they use to support numerous organizations throughout Henderson County.

“The Sauer Award recognizes not only people who have made contributions financially to causes that matter, but it also acknowledges the investment of their time and interests,” said Board of Directors Vice Chair and Recognition Committee Chair Stan Duncan. “Our recipients of this award are not giving for recognition, they are doing it to give back and Dirk and Paige exemplify just that.”

Sauer Award Winners are distinguished philanthropic leaders in our community. Past recipients include: Ron and Norma Rosenberger, Hall and Sonja Waddell, Grace V. Poli, Bernd and Toby Linder, Phyllis C. Rothrock, Ruth Birge, Thos. R. Shepherd, Mary R. Garrison, Dr. Stuart and Carola Cohn, Marian P. Lowry, Teddi Segal, Robert and Doris Eklund, the Dr. Kathleen McGrady Family, Jeff Miller, Duane and Peggy McKibbin, Dot Marlow, Dr. Colin Thomas, Frank Byrd, Tom and Sue Fazio, Eleanora Meloun, Marcia Caserio, William "Bill" F. Stokes, Jr., William E. "Jamie" Jamison, Kermit Edney, Morris Kaplan, Kenneth Youngblood, and Frank Wyttenbach Ewbank.

The Dorothy Dellinger “Dot” Marlow Philanthropic Catalyst Award honors a community member that typifies selfless volunteer leadership in philanthropic work for our community’s greater good. The award recognizes a person who continually advocates for others and works so that everyone can become their best self.

The 2021 Dot Marlow Philanthropic Catalyst Award was presented to Kathleen Lees. A community volunteer for more than two decades, Kathleen’s service and advocacy has impacted immeasurable lives throughout Henderson County. Coinciding with her 19 years of advocacy work as a Guardian ad Litem, Kathleen became an involved member of a dozen other organizations throughout the area. She was also instrumental in spearheading the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Breakfast more than 20 years ago as part of her decade-long service on the Human Relations Council of Henderson County.

“Kathleen Lees not only embodies the spirit of a servant and leader like Dot Marlow, but also that of a person whom inspires all,” shared McCray Benson. When asked about the type of legacy she wished to leave, Kathleen stated, “I hope it’s that I’ve helped improve people’s lives, and I’m an example for others to do the same. We should all work hard to understand people from all walks of life.”

Like Dot’s tireless enthusiasm to better the community, each recipient reflects her extraordinary spirit. Past Dorothy Dellinger “Dot” Marlow Philanthropic Catalyst Award Recipients include Albert Lyons (2020) and Renee Kumor (2019).