Making Dreams Come True for Others
Though unable to attend Concordia himself, Don Larsen, 79, of Casselton, N.D., has always looked with favor on the college and that's especially true today. His gifts, which two years ago earned him the Soli Deo Gloria award, are now reaching even more students in the form of scholarships.
"We're thankful for what we have and that we're able to give," says Larsen, a retired businessman who owned Federate Stores in Casselton.
Larsen, whose own values and life goals parallel Concordia's, has made the college his number one giving priority. He and his wife, Ardeth, who passed away four years ago, became C-400 members in 1960 and increased their gifts over time. They believed in the mission statement of the college, Larsen says, and wanted to provide that educational opportunity for young people.
"Concordia, to me, is the ultimate educational facility, because of the educational classes, the ability to prepare people to go into the world and for them to become involved with church life," Larsen says.
Growing up in Kindred, N.D., and then Casselton, Larsen helped with his father's department store and then followed in his footsteps to the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks. Family finances didn't allow for him to attend Concordia and he pledged early on to send his own children to the college. The Larsens have three daughters, including two Cobbers – Gwen Walden '80 of Cincinnati, Ellyce Hayes '85 of Big Lake, Minn., and Lynnette Larsen of San Francisco.
"They both received tremendous educations from Concordia," Larsen says. "I was so pleased with the religious experience of being at Concordia."
Faith is an important aspect of the Larsen household and always was, he says. And like Concordia, so was global education. Don and Ardeth traveled frequently, visiting about 55 countries and collecting woodcarvings, paintings and nativity scenes from many of the destinations. Both Gwen and Ellyce traveled on May Seminars and Lynnette has worked across the globe for the United Nations and major nonprofit agencies.
Giving back to others is another message Concordia instills in its students and Larsen has taught his own family. As his business became more prosperous, he was able to fund educations for his children and grandchildren, but wanted to do more. He sought to help more young people attend Concordia.
"His desire is to make a Concordia education available to the greatest number of students so cost isn't an inhibitor, the way it was for him," says Eric Johnson '82, vice president for Advancement.
Scholarships, like Larsen's, are an important part of financial gifts to the college.
"All Concordia students are recipients of an unbroken line of donors who have supported Concordia from the very beginning," Johnson adds.
Those interested in making Concordia College attainable for future students are welcome to contact director of development Teresa Harland.