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February 2, 2021

Why I Give Back by Mary Lindgren

Why I Give Back by Mary Lindgren
Mary Lindgren and her husband, Doug, created a scholarship endowment for business students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Although Mary Lindgren grew up in Iowa, she lived with an ever-present spirit of Nebraska through her father, H.L. Whitaker, ’31, of Wahoo, Nebraska. Their bond and a fervent family commitment to education, led Lindgren and her husband, Doug, to create a scholarship endowment for business students at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

My father, H.L. Whitaker, ’31, grew up in Wahoo and attended Nebraska, joined the Kappa Sigma fraternity and graduated with a degree in business administration. In 1935, he married my mother, Alice, and moved to Iowa in the Fort Dodge area.

During the 1930s, he worked for Nebraska and Iowa businesses and established connections. He became chief of accounting and warehouse manager for two large regional freight companies. Later, as business manager of the Fort Dodge Community School District, he was active in the state and national school board associations.

Drafted in 1943 at age 35, my dad served in the Army overseas in Britain, France and Belgium during World War II. In 1944, he attended Adjutant General School in the states. Then he was assigned to the Detroit Ordnance District where he worked with supplier contracts for Patton tanks at the Fisher Body Plant in Grand Blanc, Michigan.

Mary Lindgren's father came to Nebraska from his hometown in Wahoo, Nebraska, and graduated with a degree in business administration.
Mary Lindgren's father came to Nebraska from his hometown in Wahoo, Nebraska, and graduated with a degree in business administration.

I joined the family shortly afterward and went everywhere with my parents. At age of two or three, I took my first trip to the broker’s office with my father at the time when ticker tape machines, chalkboards and constantly ringing phones kept people moving. I inadvertently started learning numbers and letters. I found it fascinating and enjoyed those times with dad. Education has always been an important part of our family. My father’s parents both earned postsecondary degrees, though not the norm in the late 19th century.

I chose Iowa State and graduated with bachelor's and master’s degrees in political science in 1968 and 1969 respectively. Because of my father’s financial planning background, I graduated with no debt and a new car. Doug graduated with no debt from Michigan Technological University in chemical engineering.

We began supporting our university foundations right after graduation because we thought it was the right thing to do. We continued for more than 50 years and created scholarship endowments at our alma maters for students who demonstrate financial need.

Now we come full circle by supporting Nebraska. Always part of our planning through an estate endowment for the College of Business, we wanted to honor my father and share what his financial planning for our family and what his long-term advice allowed us to do. We hope this scholarship endowment enables future students to do great things.