Alaska editorial: Solid foundations: Legacy gifts by Alaskans contribute to our future

This editorial first appeared in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner:

The Rasmuson Foundation began supporting charitable causes in Alaska with its first grant in 1955 — a $125 award to the Wasilla Presbyterian Church for a film projector.

So it is with particular gratitude that we take note of an important milestone achieved by the foundation in June — its total grantmaking has surpassed $200 million.

The mission of the Rasmuson Foundation is to “promote a better life for Alaskans,” a goal that it has pursued by helping nonprofit groups across our state meet basic needs, solve special problems and bolster the arts and education.

While there were no major grants to Fairbanks organizations on the most recent list of major projects, the Rasmuson Foundation has funded many worthy endeavors in our community over the years.

Since last winter alone, the foundation has directed about $2.5 million in grants to Fairbanks.

Founded by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband, E.A. Rasmuson, the foundation has grown because of the leadership offered by the late Elmer Rasmuson, by Ed Rasmuson, the chairman of the 12-member board, and by Diane Kaplan, president of the organization.

Upon Elmer’s death, he left most of his $400 million estate to charity.

The Rasmuson family played a large role in the history of Alaska banking and continues as the state’s leading proponent of philanthropy.

In Fairbanks, another name that looms large in banking history is about to become connected with philanthropy as well.

The Bill Stroecker Foundation is to be funded with many of the assets acquired by the late Fairbanks banker during his 90 years. In time there could be grants of a few million per year or more.

One small but not insignificant source of funds for the foundation is to come from the sale of Stroecker’s dozen-and-a-half recreational cabins and other real estate holdings.

The representatives of his estate have chosen an online auction to publicize the holdings in hopes of getting fair prices for the choice properties that are spread across the Interior.

We hope that the auction goes well and advise bidders to not wait until the last moment to participate as unexpected Internet delays can create havoc at the last minute.

For more information on the sales, go to http://akcabins.org. There are different deadlines for different holdings, from July 12-20.

If you do not have Internet access, but want to know more, call the law firm of Hompesch & Evans at 452-1700.

With both the Rasmuson Foundation and the Stroecker Foundation, the contributions and accomplishments of distinguished Alaskans are the foundation for a better life in Alaska.

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