An Unconventional Legacy

When you are in the business of fundraising at Saint John’s University you can count on a couple of things.  One, there are many, many terrific people out there who love Saint John’s, and they include alumni, their parents and a host of other friends of Saint John’s.  And two, although you can plan your work in a certain way you, won’t always know what triggers someone to make a significant financial gift to Saint John’s.  Such was the case with the Rueter Family a few years ago.

I received a call from John Rueter, someone I had never met nor someone who was ever a student at Saint John’s.  Despite those two realities, John wanted to speak with me about how he could make a unique gift to Saint John’s, one that would have meant very much to his parents.  You see, John’s father had taught speech and homiletics at Saint John’s back in the 80s and 90s.  I asked what his father’s name was because I had taken an outstanding January Term speech class from a Dr. Alvin “Al” Rueter.  John said indeed that he was one and the same.  

Over a terrific coffee meeting in the Twin Cities we had a great time talking about his parents.  John shared that his dad, a Lutheran minister, truly cherished his time at Saint John’s and loved the students.  I shared with John that I had often described his dad as one of my favorite profs.  He had assigned each of us nine speeches in that three-week course and he was very demanding, yet fair.  His dad was one of the kindest human beings I had ever met, and even when he was critiquing your speech you felt like he was only doing so to make you better.  John appreciated hearing this.

John also shared that his mother, Beulah, took several of John Hassler’s creative writing courses and that she loved them all.  All in all, their time on campus was very special and they missed Saint John’s a great deal after they left for Al’s new job at Dana College, a Lutheran college outside of Omaha, Nebraska.  Al taught there for several years before the college finally closed, and a few years later Al and Beula passed away.

John looked into the endowment that his parents had established at Dana College and learned that after its closing he could transfer that balance to another charitable entity.  As soon as he discovered this he called Saint John’s, and that led to our meeting.  The result?  Today, the Beulah C. Rueter Endowed Scholarship provides funds to Johnnies studying English or Communication.  It has helped several students already and will support many more in years to come.

Once again, Saint John’s had a tremendous impact on some outstanding people, and in a very unconventional way they have left a legacy to thank Saint John’s for that experience.  How their gift came to Saint John’s is certainly unconventional; that it came to be, however, speaks volumes about the enduring impact of Saint John’s on their lives.