Karen Herman

Donor Spotlight
Black and white portrait photograph of a white man in uniform.
Karen Herman's father, John V. Kuivinen

Karen Herman, along with her husband Mike, have been generous supporters of the National WWI Museum and Memorial.

At a recent presentation to encourage membership in the Pershing Legacy Society, Karen shared a fascinating account of her father's involvement in World War I and the effect it had on him and his family. Karen has graciously allowed us to reproduce her presentation here. We feel it is an eloquent endorsement of ongoing support for the Museum and Memorial.

Reflections on a Poppy

“It is a privilege for me to have the opportunity to speak on behalf of all of us who cherish memories about loved ones who may have served in World War I – the Great War – and those of us who have since lived in times that were profoundly altered by World War One.

“My memory begins with a red poppy.

“My father, John V. Kuivinen, served in WWI as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Ambulance Corps at a time when the ambulance corps was being transformed from horse-driven wagons to motorized vehicles.

“Dad graduated from the University of Michigan in 1917 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, and went right into the Army where such skills were in high demand. As I recall, he worked on ambulance motor function and design.

“I knew his service had a big impact on him, because when I was growing up in the 1950’s, every Veteran’s Day, Dad and I would go from door to door in our neighborhood with red crepe paper poppies, asking for donations to help the veterans of both wars. And walking along the Museum’s glass bridge over an enormous field of 9,000 red poppies – each poppy representing 1,000 war dead – is deeply moving.

“I was really proud of Dad and his commitment to remember those who served. I began to see the importance of remembering and giving back, just as so many of you are here now to honor someone dear to you who served our country in this war, or other wars.

“I felt honored that Curator Doran Cart helped to include my Dad’s Army photograph on the Wall of Honor, and later, when I was invited to contribute an album of Dad’s photographs reflecting his work with the ambulance corps.

“So recently, I attended a planned giving information session at the Museum. I went to the meeting out of respect for Dad, and because I had a strong sense of the importance of this remarkable Museum, and of what was being accomplished here.

“If truth be told, I don’t remember going to this meeting intending to give! I was just going to listen!

“But I underestimated just how much this Museum had impacted me, and so when folks at this meeting began discussing planned giving it suddenly hit me that I wanted to honor Dad with a planned gift from my estate. And when I stood up and made this commitment, I felt a real joy to have been given this opportunity! Imagine that!

“My husband Mike and I had the good fortune to live here in Kansas City for over forty years, to raise our family here and to create some measure of wealth.

“And like the Oppenstein Brothers Foundation where I worked for many years, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where Mike worked, he and I created a family Foundation thirty years ago. We have brought our children into our family foundation in the beginning when they were young so that together we have learned – and continue to learn – about the impact and importance of philanthropy. The Herman Family Foundation will be in their capable hands when we are gone.

“There are many avenues to commemorate those we love. It goes without saying that this extraordinary, world-renown Museum displays the profound scope of the Great War and its impact on humanity. There is little doubt that Museum is indeed worthy of our support!

“It is my hope that together, our commitment and investment in the World War I Museum will perhaps someday help humanity understand how to prevent war, and how to create lasting peace in this precious world of ours.”