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Snustads give Win-E-Mac gets biggest gift ever: School district says $2 million endowment will pay for scholarships, programs

Arthur Snustad

Kevin Bonham

Forum News Service

ERSKINE — Win-E-Mac School District and some graduating students could start reaping the benefits in the spring from an estimated $2 million estate, the largest gift the district ever has received.

Annual disbursements from the Arthur I. and Jane B. Snustad Education Fund are expected to be about $80,000, with half going to scholarships and half going toward school district improvements, according to Aaron Cook, district business manager.

“This was a big surprise,” Superintendent Randy Bruer said in a news release. “The Snustad scholarships will make a huge impact in the lives of students attending the Win-E-Mac School.”

Previously, the largest gift to the district was a $500,000 fund that is invested in a certificate of deposit, according to Cook. Interest earned from that fund is invested in technology.

The Snustad Education Fund was established in 2005, according to the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, which is managing the fund. The total gift is estimated to be about $2 million, once all parcels of real estate in the trust are sold. Only the annual interest will be spent.

Win-E-Mac is a consolidated district named for Winger, Erskine and McIntosh, all in Minnesota. The school in Erskine has a K-12 enrollment of 420. The school has 47 seniors this year, Cook said.

The average graduating class size is in the low to mid-30s.

Humble beginnings

Arthur Snustad, who died Aug. 22 at the age of 92, grew up in Winger, graduating from McIntosh High School in 1939.

After serving in the Army in World War II, he returned home to Winger and married Jane Webster in 1947. He graduated from the University of Minnesota’s mortuary science program and later owned Snustad Funeral Home in Blackduck, retiring in 2006.

“Grandpa loved to talk about his days at the University of Minnesota,” his granddaughter, DeAnn Givens, said in the news release. “He grew up in the Great Depression and had to work for everything he needed when just a kid. His first job was on a potato farm in Winger. He knew he had to work to go to college and get an education.

“He wanted kids from where he grew up to have great schools and a better chance at the opportunity to get to college.”

Where money goes

While some details of the Snustad Education Fund still are being worked out, half of the money will go toward scholarships for Win-E-Mac High School graduates with grade-point averages of 3.0 who have been accepted to a higher-education institution. The scholarships are renewable for up to four years.

The remaining half of the money will be given as grants in support of education programs, projects and activities. A school district committee will help make those decisions.

The initial grant probably will help to equip a school addition that will be constructed next year, Cook said.

Win-E-Mac voters recently approved a $5 million referendum, part of which will be used for the addition.

Bruer said in the release that this is an opportunity to pay for new curriculum material and equipment in the shop class in the addition, which he hopes will encourage students’ interest in construction welding, small gas engines and machining.

“Arthur came from our rural communities and knew that every young child needs a chance to develop skills to prepare themselves for the future of work or postsecondary education,” the superintendent said. “Win-E-Mac is fortunate to have such a great man graduate from McIntosh High School.”

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