Stories

30 for 30

Thirty years of stories about West Central Initiative and the communities,
people and organizations that make this region so great.

Inga Johnson: Caring for Community

Inga Johnson: Caring for Community

It was a combination of forethought, thrift – and most of all care – that turned one person's gift into one that will touch many people for many years to come. That one person is Inga Johnson and her gift was the Inga M. Johnson Endowment Fund. It is a gift that continues to give to the families of Fergus Falls and to the surrounding area, and it is one of which West Central Initiative is very proud to be a part.

A LIFE – FULL OF ENJOYMENT AND CARING

Inga was born in 1902 on a farmstead in Elizabeth Township. She was the youngest, and the last survivor, of eight children of Oscar and Kari (Jensen) Johnson. After completing grade school in Elizabeth, Inga went on to Park Region College in Fergus Falls and Dakota Business College in Fargo.

Early in her work life, Inga was employed as a cashier and stenographer at DeLendrecie's Department Store in Fargo, and at the First National Banks in Mayville and McIntosh. While she was employed as a cook at Two Medicine Chalet in Glacier National Park, Inga began to enjoy photographing the scenery and hiking in the mountains.

A COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY

Her travels took her as far as the Pacific Ocean, and while in California, she learned that her brother Charles had purchased the Lake Alice Grocery in Fergus Falls. Inga soon joined him in the neighborhood grocery business. She worked for 50 years at the store – into her 80's – and some ten years after her brother had died.

Inga also was active in her church – singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School and working with the church women's organizations. She continued her love for climbing mountains and tending flowers. With her interest in photography, Inga was a charter member of Heart O'Lakes Camera Club. During the Second World War, she was a member of the Red Cross Blood Mobile Canteen.

As Inga began to reach 90 years of age – and having been in and out of nursing homes several times – she knew it was time to begin planning her estate.

ESTABLISHING AN ESTATE PLAN

With legal counsel, Inga established a living trust to manage her assets and contain her estate plan. She provided management of her assets for the years she expected to be in a nursing home. Inga planned to make appropriate gifts to relatives (nine nieces and nephews), local friends and associates, and charities – as the success of her investments permitted. Inga also decided to establish a permanent endowment fund to provide benefits, in perpetuity, for people living in and around the Fergus Falls area. The plan considers her investments, insurance, trusts and annuities.

Inga also made a will, which was designed to reduce or eliminate income tax and death taxes and to provide maximum benefits for her friends, family and chosen charities.

WEST CENTRAL INITIATIVE WAS SELECTED

For many years, Inga had contributed to a number of charitable nonprofit organizations in the Fergus Falls area. It was her wish to continue this support even after her death. A Living Trust and Endowment Fund with West Central Initiative (WCI) were the means Inga chose to accomplish her goals.

A GIFT OF LOVE LIVES ON IN FERGUS FALLS

Inga died in October 1998 at the age of 96. Before her death, she had contributed $130,000 over seven years to the Endowment Fund.

Inga received an income tax deduction for the amount of the gift that she was able to make each year from the annual earnings of her investments.

These gifts gradually and steadily increased the size of the Endowment. Inga reduced her income tax liability by the deductible charitable gifts she made to WCI and other charities.

AN ADDED-VALUE TO INGA'S GIFT

Upon her death, Inga also left a residuary portion of her estate, further increasing the size of the Inga M. Johnson Endowment Fund to more than three-quarters of a million dollars. By doing so, she accomplished another goal – to eliminate all death taxes on her estate.

MAKING COMMUNITIES STRONGER AND HEALTHIER

Through earnings from the Inga M. Johnson Endowment Fund, contributions support a number of organizations in the Fergus Falls area

Inga Johnson. One of life's true gifts.

Giving of herself and her financial resources: that's how Inga lived her life and that is how she is remembered today: Making life better for future generations in Fergus Falls and for the entire region.

Learn more about West Central Initiative's donor advised funds. Contact Tom McSparron at 800 735-2239 or tom@wcif.org