Montana Families Help Their College of the Church
There is a rural ELCA church – Goldstone Lutheran –
located several miles north of Rudyard in the windswept
Montana Hi-Line wheat country, where several parishioners
came to learn of and admire the work of Concordia as the
college of their ELCA church.
As the years went by, the value of their farms grew just as the reputation and reach of the college did, until the time came when it was decided that their assets could best be used to help educate future generations of young people.
Myrtle Bergstrom and her brothers, Algot and Gene, along with Harold and Evelyn Wanke, did just that.
The Bergstroms, who have since passed away, established a testamentary gift of land in their estate to support Concordia’s endowment, and the Wankes created a charitable remainder unitrust to help several beneficiaries, including Concordia.
“It’s not unusual for people who are not alumni to support the college,” says Eric Johnson ’82, vice president for Advancement. “People like the Bergstroms and Wankes are generous to Concordia because they believe in the church college mission.”
While neither the Bergstroms nor the Wankes attended Concordia, there is a strong connection. Their pastor at Goldstone Lutheran was the Rev. Wayne Pris ‘68, who is married to Georgia (Jacobson) Pris ’69, which makes him the son-in-law of the late Luther Jacobson ’34, one of the visionary co-founders of C-400. Jacobson’s message of the importance of individuals helping the college directly was brought to Goldstone one Sunday morning, where the Bergstroms and Wankes grasped its significance.
Harold Wanke, a lifetime Rudyard farmer and bank director, died in 1995. At that time, his wife, Evelyn, decided establishing a trust would serve her husband’s philanthropic desires, as well as providing her with a guaranteed annual income.
Evelyn is proud that she is able to honor her beloved husband’s wishes. “I made these gifts because these are the places that Harold wanted to support,” she says.
Evelyn and Harold were sweethearts all through high school. She graduated valedictorian in 1947 and was offered scholarships to colleges – one being Concordia. But Harold couldn’t afford college and, rather than go without him, Evelyn took a local job and they were married in 1949. They operated their wheat farm as partners, Evelyn sometimes driving tractor or a grain truck, and both were faithful members of the Goldstone church.
“These gifts are examples of a long-term relationship that developed between the college and these individuals that simply grew over the years,” says Gary Haugo ’93, the Concordia gift planner for the Montana region. “To receive estate gifts like these means that Concordia was considered a member of their families and the college is grateful for such special treatment.”
For information about establishing an annual or endowed scholarship, a charitable trust or gift annuity, giving stock or mutual funds, and including Concordia in your estate plans, please contact the gift planning staff at (800) 699-9896 or e-mail Teresa Harland, director of development, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the Concordia giving Web site at