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A selfless giver

By Staff | Nov 14, 2009

Irma Klatt

Generations were touched by Irma Klatt’s gifts as a teacher, school counselor and community volunteer.

For 50 years, Klatt served as a passionate public educator and administrator of schools in Faribault County. Her lifetime of dedication to education and long record of service to local organizations affirmed her values as a selfless giver of her time and talents. She left an enormous impact on countless lives before her death at age 93 in July 2008.

Now, her legacy will live on.

A devout churchgoer, Klatt created a new and lasting legacy by giving generously from her estate to 15 educational and Lutheran charities, in addition to several local organizations.

Locally, Klatt left monetary gifts to: St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Blue Earth to be used for missions and radio broadcasts; Faribault County Historical Society; Blue Earth High School Scholarship Fund; Blue EarthEducation Assistance Fund; Blue Earth’s United Hospital District Foundation; King’s Aids or successors in interest and mission of Faribault County and St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center Foundation at Blue Earth.

Another beneficiary was Concordia University in St. Paul, despite her not being an alumnus. Her gift to Concordia was not restricted, so will be used for the area of greatest need. Because financial concerns can be an obstacle preventing students from getting a college education, Klatt’s gift will be used to provide financial aid to deserving students in need.

Concordia’s President, Rev. Dr. Robert Holst, praised Klatt’s generosity saying, “Her gift blesses us to provide more access to educational opportunities. She will enable students to find their calling at Concordia.”

She never even informed anyone at Concordia about her intention to give. It is presumed Klatt recognized Concordia as an extension of her church (St. Paul Lutheran) and a training ground for future Lutheran pastors, educators and lay leaders – a core mission of Concordia.

Concordia University, St. Paul, is a comprehensive private university of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Established in 1893, Concordia offers more than 40 liberal arts majors, including business administration, education, fine arts, the sciences and church professions.

A charter member of the Faribault County Historical Society, Klatt had belonged to the society for 60 years at the time of her death. It is no surprise this organization was also left monies by Klatt.

During the years 1962-1965 and 1967, she served as president of the organization and, from 1983-1985 and 1989, Klatt was the acting secretary. In addition to the offices she held, Lorraine Arends, current board member, says Irma did a lot of accessioning of donations through the years for the museum.

“Irma’s pet area at the museum was serving as the overseer,” says Arends.

“We feel very fortunate and are very thankful for the monies Irma left us,” says Arends of the donation to the society. “The money will be applied to our savings account at this time, since the board has not specified a usage for it as yet.”

During the years Klatt was involved with the historical society, she saw the acquisition of the Wakefield House, the Episcopal Good Shepherd Church, the Etta C. Ross Memorial Library and the historical buildings located on History Lane at the county fairgrounds.

Another grateful recipient of Klatt’s financial generosity is St. Luke’s Lutheran Care Center in Blue Earth.

“St Luke’s Nursing Home Foundation is very happy to be remembered in Irma’s Will. She lived both in our assisted living facility and the care center. While here, Irma was very involved in the activities and was a joy to meet and chat with. Our Foundation annually gives $100,000 to $200,000 per year to help support St. Luke’s operations. This bequeath will become part of the Foundation’s endowment fund so we may continue this vital support.”

-Diane Helgeson, Accountant for St. Luke’s Nursing Home Foundation

Irma was born April 23, 1915, in Elmore Township.

On June 2, 1929, she was confirmed at Blue Earth’s St. Paul Lutheran Church, where she remained a member until her death on July 3, 2008.

She participated in many church activities including being a Sunday School teacher for 25 years, member of the Walther League, choir, LWML, Altar Guild, Martha Guild, Centennial Book Committee, congregation secretary, in addition to other committees.

Klatt attended and graduated from Blue Earth Public Schools in 1933. She completed a year in the Blue Earth Teacher Training Department in 1934 and began her educational career at several Faribault County rural schools. She served as the Assistant County Superintendent of Schools from 1941-1948.

For the next 38 years she worked as a teacher, administrator and counselor in the Blue Earth Public School, as well as a part-time counselor at the Elmore Public School for 10 years.

Throughout the years, many evenings, Saturdays and summers were spent continuing her educational growth and in earning her masters degree in education from Mankato State University in 1960.

Irma retired in 1984, concluding 50 years in service to education.

Although retired from public service, she devoted herself to bettering her community by participating on boards or as a volunteer. Among these were: Blue Earth City Police Commission; the Library Planning Committee; United Fund Board; Blue Earth Education Assistance Fund; American Field Service; Faribault County Historical Society; Blue Earth Community Education; Chamber of Commerce; St. Luke’s Auxiliary and United Hospital Auxiliary.

In 1987, she was named ‘Woman of Achievement’ by the members of the Alpha Alpha Chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma International Society. She was awarded a similar ‘Woman of Achievement’ honor in 1990 by the Mitchell Chautauqua Circle.

Also in 1990, the Blue Earth Sertoma Club nominated her for the ‘Service to Mankind’ award and the AAL Branch 810 selected her for the 1990 ‘Volunteer Action’ award.

In 2005, the Minnesota Valley Action Council chose Klatt for the ‘Roger Wolf Achievement’ award.

Generations will continue to be touched by Irma Klatt’s gifts as a teacher, school counselor, community volunteer and now as a benefactor. Indeed, she was a selfless giver.