The Minnesota Historical Society recognizes members who have generously provided for MNHS in their estate plans by inducting them into the Legacy Society.
Every October, MNHS hosts its annual Legacy Society Luncheon. At this luncheon we welcome new Legacy Society members and pay tribute to longtime MNHS members and supporters who passed away in the prior year. Watch the presentation from October 3, 2022: 18th Annual Legacy Society Celebration: MNHS Archaeology Past, Present, and Future. If you are interested in learning more about how to set up a planned gift for MNHS through your estate, or want to learn more about the MNHS Legacy Society, please contact us
MNHS welcomes seven new members who joined the Legacy Society between July 2021 and June 2022. We are grateful to these generous members who have included MNHS in their estate plans.
- George Latimer
- Hugh and Marilyn Madson
- Gerald Meigs
- Thomas Redshaw
- Nancy Saathoff
- Michael J. Muth and Mary Jo Seberg
- Penelope Simison
The Minnesota Historical Society acknowledges the following members of the Society we lost over the past year. These generous individuals and families made a lasting impact, and their contributions and support will never be forgotten.
H. Dewalt "Pete" and Margie Ankeny
Pete and Margie Ankeny's passion for preserving and sharing Minnesota history stems from the deep roots of the Dayton, Hamm and Ankeny families. They joined the Society in 1988 and Pete served on the Executive Council from 1988-1999. He and Margie opened their homes in Arizona and Wayzata to our members for special gatherings. The Society has greatly benefited from their generosity, including a recent gift to the revitalization project at Historic Fort Snelling. Together, Pete and Margie stressed the importance of "using one's talents and brains to make a difference in the world."
1982 Librarian of the Year and American Library Association's Hall of Fame Inductee William Asp was dedicated to the Library System in Minnesota. Under his leadership as State Librarian from 1975-1996, Minnesota became one of the few states with border-to-border public library services for all. Along with his service to the people of Minnesota through his work promoting libraries, William was also a supporter of MNHS through his membership since 1994. In 2013, he created the William G. Asp Fund for Collections because of his strong belief that Minnesota is an unusual state in its diverse ethnic heritage. "Minnesota has a deep and rich tradition of providing a home for immigrants from around the globe" he said. "And it is important that the stories of the immigrants - past, present, and future - be kept alive and accessible."
Irma Cragun and her husband Dutch's many years of dedication, hard work and passion for Cragun's Resort on Gull Lake set the stage for thousands of families to create lasting memories. Along with being the heart of Cragun's Resort, Irma was on the board of directors for Ski Gull and contributed to over 35 charities. She was recognized for her accomplishments by appearing on the original cover of Her Voice magazine and as recipient of the 2019 Award in Philanthropy from the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation. She was a long standing member of MNHS since 1998 and gave generously over the years, including a gift towards the Society Press publication "When Republicans were Progressive" by Senator Dave Durenberger and Lori Sturdevant.
Katherine "Kitty" Crosby
A member since 1989, Kitty Crosby was a dedicated supporter of preserving and sharing Minnesota history. She contributed generously to Mill City Museum and helped establish the Crosby Family Fund for Digital Preservation. Kitty was a dedicated teacher for 15 years and an avid equestrian. She gave back to her community through service on many boards including Orono Schools, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Children's Theater Company and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.
Betty Jayne (B.J.) Dahlberg, with her husband, Ken, were essential to making the Minnesota's Greatest Generation exhibit at the Minnesota History Center a reality. Her longtime partnership with Society and investment in the next generation was demonstrated through the establishment of the Kenneth and Betty Jayne Dahlberg Education Fund, which provides admission scholarships for Minnesota students in grades 4 through 8 to visit museums and historic sites. Her leadership also benefited others outside of MNHS; she served on the boards of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and the Courage Center.
Carol Daniels cared deeply about her community, attributing this mindset to "Minnesotans' pervasive desire to do good." Carol joined in 1998 and established The Noel Fund for History Players in 2008. This endowment supports interpretive programming team as they engage, educate and entertain visitors and present historical information to school groups and the general public using a variety of interpretive and performance techniques.
Judy Dayton and her late husband Ken were remarkable yet humble philanthropists in Minnesota, and gave generously to many Minnesota organizations, including the Society. In addition to holding MNHS membership since 1951, Judy and Ken supported Minnesota's Greatest Generation exhibit and the creation of Mill City Museum. Judy was a champion of the arts in the Twin Cities and served on the boards of many Minnesota arts and cultural organizations over her lifetime, notably including service as the first woman President of the Walker Art Center.
Mary Frey was a dedicated community volunteer, lending her skills to help favorite charities including Catholic Charities of Minneapolis St. Paul, Habitat for Humanity and many others. Mary and her husband Gene have been members of the Society since 1995 and gave special gifts of support to Minnesota's Greatest Generation and the creation of Mill City Museum. Their dedication and support through the Frey Family Foundation is deeply appreciated.
E. Daniel Eckberg
E. Daniel Eckberg had a passion for history and education. This was evident at MNHS by his creation of the Dr. E. Daniel Eckberg Fund for Education. His dedication to history and education was also noticeable throughout the state of Minnesota. He worked for 35 years in the Hopkins School District and served as President of the Minnesota Council for Social Studies. His leadership and commitment were recognized with commendations from two Minnesota governors for his contributions to education.
Peter Heegaard and his wife Anne first joined the Society in 1996 and have been supporters annually for the last 26 years. Following a long career in banking and finance with Northwestern National Bank and Norwest Capital Advisors, Peter retired to fully immerse himself in the social justice nonprofit work that he first became involved with in the 1960s. His work led to involvement with and leadership of numerous organizations seeking to improve housing, education, healthcare and job opportunities for disadvantaged people. Among his achievements was the 1997 creation of Urban Investors, an urban education program for business and financial professionals. His selfless work on social justice issues in Minnesota set a powerful example for others to follow.
Don Helgeson of Sartell, MN first joined MNHS in 1997 with his late wife, Arlene. Don was the second-generation family member to lead the successful St. Cloud business, Gold-n-Plump Poultry, started by Don's father as the Jack Frost Chicken Hatcheries in 1926. Don and his brother, Jerry, then purchased the business from their father in 1955 and the pair proceeded to grow it into the well-known broiler chicken business it is today. Non-existent at the time for any state in the Upper Midwest, Don's efforts helped to create an entirely new agricultural industry for the state of Minnesota. Don was since inducted into the prestigious Minnesota Business Hall of Fame in 2007 for his leadership of Goldn' Plump Poultry and Liberty Savings Bank. He also received the Minnesota AgriGrowth Distinguished Service Award in 2009 and was honored by the University of Minnesota as a Siehl Prize laureate in 2010 for his Excellence in Agribusiness. MNHS recorded Don's oral history to share the story of his business achievements and experiences, which included serving on the board of directors for the local district of the Federal Reserve Bank.
Following Arlene's untimely death in 2005, Don continued to support MNHS, and along with his second wife, Sue Shepard, made a generous gift to support the expansion of the Oliver Kelley Farm and to share the story of agriculture in our state. Don was both a humble and generous philanthropist who supported numerous organizations in Minnesota throughout his lifetime, which included serving on many boards and committees of nonprofits, educational institutions, and community development groups. He was especially passionate and supportive of the arts. He was awarded with many honors, including the Minnesota Agrigrowth Distinguished Service Award. Last year, when Don was 94, the Helgeson family published Don's biography "Gratitude," a title which aptly captured Don's appreciation and optimism for his family, his accomplishments, and a life well-lived.
Chuck Jonaitis and his wife Karen have been members of MNHS since 2004, honoring Karen's roots. Making their home in Oro Valley, Arizona for the past thirty years, they joined the North Star Circle in 2010 after attending the Society's spring program in Tucson. Their interest and support for the preservation and sharing of Minnesota history is evidenced by their loyal and unwavering commitment and support to MNHS over the past 17 years. Chuck's positive outlook on life, quick wit and ready smile is greatly missed by family and friends alike.
As a former teacher and principal for St. Paul Public Schools, Hope Lea believed in the importance and relevance of history. A longtime MNHS volunteer, she logged 1,131 hours at Historic Fort Snelling to provide support for school field trip groups and continue to share her love of history with students. In 2017, Hope and her husband created the Charles & Hope Lea Family Fund for Historic Fort Snelling at MNHS to provide ongoing support for this important place in Minnesota history.
Rolfe Leary was a valued member of MNHS, having been a member since 1993 and becoming part of the North Star Circle membership in 2012. Rolfe spent his life in public service beginning as a student forester on the Apache National Forest in Arizona, two years as the first forester in the Peace Corps, ending his career as a forest researcher with the US Forest Service, and retiring to do forest research in Denmark and teach forest scientist students from around the world in Belgium. He loved nature and taught children the merit of raising monarch butterflies, continuing to spread his love of nature to future generations.
Barbara Meacham was an avid traveler with a particular fondness for Turkey, Peru, Ethiopia and Mexico. She loved her home state of Minnesota, and was an active and life-long supporter of the Minneapolis community and organizations including the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Hennepin County Library, in addition to her generous investments in MNHS.
Grant Merritt was raised in Duluth, and grew up with a special connection to Lake Superior. He was the grandson of one of the "Seven Iron Men" who discovered iron ore on the Mesabi Range and founded the Mountain Iron Mine. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, Grant went on to law school and became a dedicated environmental activist and lawyer. Grant served as a member of the Executive Council from 1982 to 1990, the Emeritus Council since its creation in 2014 and was a strong advocate for preserving and sharing local history.
Jacqueline Mithun was born and raised in St. Paul, earned a PhD in applied anthropology as well as a Master of Social Work. She was a lifelong learner who loved history, was a member of the Society since 1994 and supported the North Star Circle regularly over the past two decades. Jacqueline was a longtime patron of the Gale Family Library, where she completed over 100 hours of genealogical research. She was equally passionate about spending time outdoors, and was a dedicated member of both the Minneapolis Hiking Club and the North Star Ski Touring Club, bringing many members and friends on behind the scenes tours of the Society's collections.
Linda Odegard was born and raised in Minnesota, growing up in the Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul and attending Gustavus Adolphus College. She followed her dream to become a French teacher and led student trips to France. In her second career, she taught adult literacy in Princeton, Minnesota. She supported her community with generous gifts of both money and time, serving as a volunteer and board member with various Minnesota education, health and arts nonprofit organizations. Her first husband, Steve Odegard, who died in 1996, was a student of history who fostered Linda's interest in the Minnesota Historical Society.
Longtime Saint Paul resident, Diane Roth was a third generation graduate of Visitation Convent and attended the University of Minnesota. Along with her husband, Hart Cardozo, they raised their five children in St. Paul and White Bear Lake. Diane was passionate about exploring her family's roots through genealogical research and a member of MNHS since 1999 and a North Star Circle member since 2004. She was a generous supporter of both the Gale Family Library and care of the MNHS collections for more than two decades.
Nina Rothchild completed a bachelor's degree in teaching from the University of Minnesota and taught high school mathematics. She proceeded to volunteer at a suicide hotline, followed by election to the Mahtomedi School Board, leading to a lifelong commitment to raising the status of women and girls, especially Title IX and athletics. Nina was a lioness of the women's movement. Her work to remove barriers to women's economic security made a tangible difference to countless women. She was architect of Minnesota's internationally-unique pay equity law, the State Employees Pay Equity Act of 1982, when she was director of the Minnesota Council on the Economic Status of Women. After successfully lobbying for its passage, she became Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employee Relations under Governor Rudy Perpich, where she led implementation of that law as well as its companion, the Local Government Pay Equity Act of 1984. Together those laws led to significant salary increases for 40,000 people (90 percent of them women). She co-authored the book "In the Company of Women" (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1996), a history of the American women's movement with a forward written by Gloria Steinem. The book represents a narrative quilt with stories of "how I became a feminist" for 82 women. Many were in awe of her accomplishments, as well not only for women to receive equitable pay for comparable work, but to ensure pregnancy disability benefits, funding for battered women shelters and displaced homemakers' programs, and to add sexual harassment as a form of illegal discrimination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
Dick Slade was an important supporter of many arts and cultural institutions in Minnesota. As noted by his family, Dick's life was more than just his work. Dick was born in Duluth and was a great grandson of James J Hill, who built the Stone Arch Bridge in 1883. He had a successful career in banking before joining the boards of the Wilder Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Minnesota Land Trust, and serving as president of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design from 1982-1990. He and his wife Ella loved history, and joined MNHS as members in 1996. For his 70th birthday, a group of 60 of Dick's friends created the G. Richard Slade Fund for Mill City Museum in his honor.
MNHS is very thankful for the support of these generous members and donors. Their commitment and investment in preserving and sharing history will have a lasting impact on MNHS and our work to serve all people of Minnesota.