CASSTOWN — One Tipp City man has given back to his “FFA family” in a big way.
On Sunday, alumnus Bill Mote gifted the Miami East-Miami Valley CTC FFA chapter with the largest donation in its history — $100,000 — a gift on behalf of the late Doris West McMillan. The donation was presented at the chapter’s annual banquet much to the chapter’s members’ and families’ surprise during the presentation. The gift will be dispersed over a 15-year period of time.
That same evening, Mote would later be surprised himself, when the chapter designated Mote as its annual Honorary FFA Degree recipient.
“I didn’t feel I deserved it,” said Mote, visibly touched by the honor. “I had no idea. I was really touched by that.”
Mote graduated from Miami East in 1989 and was actively involved in FFA, music and audio and visual activities in high school. Mote said Marie Carity, FFA adviser, has shared many stories of her students’ experiences that have touched Mote over the years.
“I think the biggest thing I remember about my FFA experience was that you would grow stronger in your own self and have more confidence in yourself,” Mote shared. “It ended up being a family, a family you are a part of the rest of your life. Those people are going to be there for the rest of your life.”
Mote shared how McMillan, of Piqua, came into his life 24 years ago, lifting each other out of dark times as they worked together at Meijer beginning around 1996. She was recently widowed and he was a recent college graduate. “Miss Doris” was struggling with the loss of her late husband Tom and Mote said they bonded over lifting each other’s spirits and reminding each other that life was worth living.
“I knew what it was like and could relate to her. I’d give her words of comfort to her to let her know that, hey, it’s going to be OK, ” he shared, adding that he’d buy her a rose or doughnut as tokens of encouragement.
Mote said they struck up a friendship as she asked him to help with her yard work and household chores. McMillan had no children and little family in the area. Mote later became her caregiver until her death in June 2019. As she aged, he would take her to appointments and run errands.
With no children or relatives to care for her or gift her money to, “Miss Doris” entrusted Mote with her trust and to disperse her estate. McMillan drove a school bus for 27 years for Piqua City Schools and Lehman Catholic High School and worked various jobs over the years.
Carity said she’d run into Mote and Miss Doris, usually at JoAnn Fabrics or the grocery store.
“We are every blessed with this opportunity and we look forward to investing it with the Miami East Education Foundation so that we can supply scholarships for many, many years to come,” said Carity, who said the chapter has been gifted many generous donations in its past, “but nothing like this.”
Miami East Local Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Rappold said, “The Miami East School District is grateful of Mr. Bill Mote’s generosity with the recent gift to the Miami East FFA Chapter on behalf of the Doris McMillan Trust. The funds will be used for local scholarships and various FFA programs. Mr. Mote exemplifies the ‘pay it forward’ philosophy in ensuring that future students will have the same opportunities he had when he was a student at Miami East. The FFA will be able to assist hundreds of FFA students during the term of the endowment as a result of Mr. Mote’s unbelievable gesture to Miami East.”
Mote said he also participates in the FFA chapter’s annual fruit sale, donating 30 boxes to New Path’s food pantry ministry each December. FFA members deliver the fruit to the pantry for those in need to have fresh fruit as part of their food supply.
Mote, who lives in Bethel Township with his wife Moya and two sons, said McMillan set her trust up to ensure it would be used to take care of others.
“She said ‘I know you’ll put it in the right spot,’” Mote said. “God has put all these people in my path to show me where to donate and how.”
Mote said with McMillan’s estate, he’s made donations to New Path ministries and Dream Builders’ Clubhouse. Mote also donated to MADD to support the Miami County teen programming to share Laura Cruea Seger’s story of losing her son to a drunk driver.
Mote said Doris doted on her seven dogs during her life. Mote has endowed NEADS, based out of Pennsylvania, which is an organization that provides service dogs to those in need. He said a friend with ALS received a service dog from the organization, which inspired the donation.
“Miss Doris had dogs so that donation will help people get the dogs they need to be able to help their condition or whatever they are going through,” Mote said.
Mote shared that he hopes gifts like McMillan’s will inspire those to give to those in need and to organizations that help the community.
“I really hope that people can help the organizations because of the pandemic and everything going on — everybody has been affected. There’s a need. We need to help everybody out through this,” Mote said.