Leaving a Legacy of Unbreakable Optimism

A black and white vintage photo of a young man and woman standing next to each other and smiling at the camera. She wears a dark dress with a white collar, and he wears a dark uniform.

Louis “Lou” Sentesy was a longtime donor of Mission Services supporting our neighbours in need for over 20 years. And his generosity continued even after he passed away with a legacy gift.

Lou didn’t live the easiest life, but he was the most optimistic person his children knew. “He dealt with trauma by being an incredibly positive person,” shared Lou’s youngest son, Paul Sentesy.

In 1929, at the age of seven, Lou’s family immigrated to Canada from Hungary.

Tragically, at the age of 13, a drunk driver killed his parents in a car accident and, overnight, Lou and his sister were orphaned. Children’s Aid Society (CAS) placed Lou’s younger sister with a foster family, but Lou had to go into the shelter system. It was through CAS that Lou was guided by a few kind men who made it their mission to get Lou an education.

Lou moved to Hamilton and started taking drafting courses at Westdale Secondary School.

He went on to become a mechanical engineer, but he never stopped learning. He was always taking night courses and improving his skills.

“Whenever he wasn’t working he was learning,” said Esther Morgan, Lou’s daughter. “Working, learning, and serving the church.” Lou met his wife Nellie at a church event and they married in 1943, but they didn’t get to enjoy the newlywed stage for very long. Lou joined the air force, doing mechanical maintenance on planes flying mail to the war overseas, while Nellie served her country as a secretary in Ottawa.

In 1945, they welcomed their first child Esther, and Nellie moved back to Dundas with their daughter to wait out the war. In 1946, Lou was decommissioned and in 1947 they welcomed their son, David. Finally, their youngest son Paul came along and the Sentesy’s began to build their family home in Dundas.

Although Lou was always working hard to provide for his family, taking on side jobs, improving his education, his children never really realized how much money he set aside to help others. He was a very private man and it wasn’t until his last year of life that he really spoke about his childhood, his parents’ deaths, and his charitable givings.

“The impression we got was he was paying back what people had done for him when he lost his parents,” explained Esther.

Lou and Nellie, both supporters of Mission Services, were very generous in their community. They served their Dundas Baptist Church, organized Meals on Wheels, and were always helping others.

“They exemplified love,” said Paul.

Nellie passed away in 2009, Lou in 2020. Both of them left gifts to Mission Services in their wills, Lou’s gift nearly doubling the amount he gave during his lifetime.

The impact donors can have on our neighbours both during their lifetime and after is truly incredible. We know without the kindness of donors like Lou and Nellie, we could not do what we do every day.

Read our the full version of our Fall 2021 newsletter here.

Learn more about leaving a gift in your will here.

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