Have you heard about the cobbler that may just be Warrensburg's greatest benefactor? That's not my phrase, I found it on the Show-Me The History Johnson County and West Central Missouri page attributed to the Alex S. Nassif Perpetual Educational Fund. And it's true.

For those long time Warrensburg townies of a certain age, you probably know of the man and his story. Heck if you had to have a pair of shoes repaired at some point before 1979 there's a good chance he repaired your shoes. For the rest of us, we most likely know of him because his name is on the town's aquatic center. I got interested in learning a little more about Mr. Nassif after reading the blurb on the Warrensburg Parks & Recreation webpage:

Nassif is an outdoor aquatic center that was built in honor of Alex S. Nassif. Mr. Nassif gave his life savings to the City of Warrensburg after his passing in 1979. The money was primarily used to build the Nassif Aquatic Center.

The story at this point isn't that surprising or unusual. Many towns have a benefactor, or a family that's done very well for themselves over the years and given back. Yet that's not exactly the story when it comes to Mr. Alex S. Nassif, a long time Warrensburg resident who left his life savings to his hometown.

According to biographical information available from The Warrensburg Schools Foundation, Mr. Nassif was born in Beirut, Lebanon on December 26, 1899. He came to America with his family as a child and became an American citizen on March 23, 1915.

In the early 30's Mr. Nassif came to Warrensburg and opened up the New York Shoe Repair Shop at 204 1/2 Holden Street. An advertisement I found on the Show-Me history page said Mr. Nassif both repaired and made shoes to order. When World War II hit Mr. Nassif enlisted to serve the country he loved and made shoes and boots for soldiers who were injured in battle based at the Jefferson Barracks south of St. Louis.

After his service he returned to Warrensburg and his shoe repair store and began helping the community through donations to the hospital, The Boys Scouts of America, The American Legion Post 131, Lion's Lake and many more organizations anonymously.

In 1967 Mr. Nassif gave $10,000 to the Warrensburg School District to help students who need it get clothes, food, school supplies and medical supplies. Then upon his passing "the Alex S. Nassif Perpetual Educational Fund was established to continue the work on a larger scale in the community."

In 2017 the Warrensburg Schools Foundation and the trustees of the Alex S. Nassif Trust entered into an agreement " for the perpetuation of the Trust and its important work for the underprivileged children in the Warrensburg schools." The trust felt the funds could be used to their fullest potential by entering into the partnership.

In 2003 when asked how Mr. Nassif was able to leave such a legacy to Warrensburg and the children who live here an original trustee told the Warrensburg Star Journal that “Mr. Nassif was very frugal, spending very little on himself and investing shrewdly in the stock market.”

And that's how a cobbler became perhaps Warrensburg's greatest benefactor.

We'll probably never know the story behind his giving. What experiences he had that made him want to give back to Warrensburg and the town's children. What I take from what we know about Mr. Nassif is he clearly liked his town of Warrensburg. He liked helping people and he liked giving back.

We can learn something from Mr. Nassif's generosity. Give back to your community, your town. Get involved. You don't have to leave your legacy and get your name on an aquatic center or a community center to make a difference. Just get involved in your community. Join an organization. Go to a meeting. Be kind to your neighbor. You'll never know who you'll help, and you'll be amazed at how it makes you feel. I think you'll also make Mr. Nassif smile wherever he is.

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