A Tribute to the Knowledge, Energy, and Passion behind the Annexstad Family Foundation
By Al Annexstad
During my former career, I hired Dick nearly 40 years ago, and I can honestly say his desire to learn, high energy, and passion for excellence drive him every day. Reaching the great milestone of funding our 1,000th scholarship in our first 20 years is more than an achievement, it’s a testament to Dick’s hard work and dedication to the mission of the Foundation. Dick has been involved with the Annexstad Family Foundation since day one, leading the Foundation’s mission and forming trusting relationships with University Presidents, administrative officials, and community leaders. Along the way, Dick developed a talented staff of Program Administrators who work closely day to day with students and college officials to assist our Scholars in achieving their dreams. As Executive Director, Dick forged partnerships with 62 of America’s finest institutions of higher education.
For Dick, it all started with our very first Scholarship at Gustavus Adolphus College in my hometown of St. Peter, Minnesota. Dick often says that Gustavus is where his crash course in higher education scholarship administration began. In a few short years, The Annexstad Family Foundation Scholarship at University of Notre Dame was established, an achievement which Dick affectionately calls his personal moon landing. As devout Catholics, Cathy and her family always had a special place in their hearts for the University of Notre Dame, an extraordinary place filled with traditions of excellence in academics, athletics, and community service. So, we asked Dick if he could find a way to help us establish a Notre Dame scholarship.
Shortly after his arrival on Notre Dame’s campus, he noticed a small bookstore where he found a book written by Notre Dame’s former president Father Edward Malloy. It was an account of his years as president, and his reflections on Notre Dame’s rich history of service to humankind. Dick started reading the book back at his hotel, finishing it at dawn just in time for his morning meeting with Notre Dame officials.
Throughout that morning, Dick shared Cathy’s and my personal stories of losing a parent to an untimely death in our youth and how those days have shaped our lives. Things really clicked in Dick’s meeting due to his previous night’s research. Notre Dame stepped forward to work with us, but the framework for our Leaders for Tomorrow national Scholarship was also established. This program has become the pillar of our Foundation’s mission across America. During Dick’s meeting at Notre Dame, friendships were forged and, as years have passed, Notre Dame officials indicate that they are proud to share our values, especially our outreach to deserving students in hopes that one day they can help change the world.
As Dick retires this year, the torch of leadership will pass to our beloved daughter, Patti Annexstad Marinovich, who has served as CFO and Secretary/Treasurer of The Annexstad Family Foundation since 2000. Like Dick, Patti is sharp, energetic, and filled with passion for our mission. Patti and Dick have worked closely over the years. As she is poised to take the reins as Executive Director, I know Patti joins Cathy and I, our son Tom, and three generations of Annexstad board members in saluting Dick for his selfless efforts to help many, many deserving kids have greater opportunity in life through the gift of higher education.