Virginia High School graduate leaves large bequest to alma materA Virginia High School graduate who dedicated his life to education and was careful with his money left $638,000 to the Virginia Community Foundation’s education fund. An equal sum was left to the South St. Paul Educational Foundation in the hometown of his late wife.
By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune
A Virginia High School graduate who dedicated his life to education and was careful with his money left $638,000 to the Virginia Community Foundation’s education fund. An equal sum was left to the South St. Paul Educational Foundation in the hometown of his late wife.
Marvin Hoyle Skaurud, 97, died Feb. 11, 2012, in Texas. His wife of 62 years, Ruth Andrus Skaurud, 84, died in 2005.
“He did it because he dedicated his life to education,” one of Skaurud’s nieces, Jane St. Romain of Winnsboro, Texas, said Thursday.
The Skauruds didn’t have children, so they traveled the world.
“They would save and save and save, then splurge on world trips,” St. Romain said.
Ruth Skaurud accompanied her husband when he taught summer sessions around the world for the University of Maryland. Skaurud visited 119 countries during his life, surviving a plane crash in South America, a cruise ship fire near Borneo and being stranded in an undeveloped area of Africa without a guide.
As a U.S. Navy ensign during World War II, he survived piloting a tug on Convoy NY 119, which left New York harbor in September 1944 carrying vital supplies for the liberation of Nazi-occupied Europe. The convoy was hammered by storms with winds up to 75 mph and seas up to 50 feet. Several vessels sank.
Marvin Skaurud graduated from Virginia High School in 1932 and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees and a doctorate in history from the University of Minnesota. He taught history for the Minneapolis school system for years.
“Their commitment to education was very strong in this community,” South St. Paul Educational Foundation executive director Cari Vujovich said. “Ruth was a 1937 South St. Paul graduate and attended the University of Minnesota. Her father, Bernard, was a school board member.”
The Skauruds met and married during World War II.
“She was a dental hygienist and I can’t remember where she picked him up,” St. Romain said. “He may have walked into her dental office. He was pretty darn cute and so was she.”
St. Romain remembers the couple as fun and friendly. Marvin Skaurud was sharp — a good poker player — who was a contestant on the 1950s TV quiz shows “The Big Payoff” and “Camouflage.”
And he was a character.
“He used to go into grocery stores with stacks of coupons and buy food, then only eat that food until it was gone,” she said.
The Skauruds are survived by a nephew in Georgia and nieces in Ohio, California and Texas. Because they didn’t have children and because their nieces and nephew didn’t need the money, the couple decided to direct their money elsewhere.
“Aunt Ruth was a lifelong PEO,” St. Romain said, referring to the Philanthropic Educational Organization, an organization created by women in 1869 to advance the education of women. The organization has nearly 250,000 members and owns Cottey College for Women in Missouri.
The couple considered leaving their estate to Cottey before saying: “Let’s just give back to our hometowns,” St. Romain said.
“It’s a wonderful gesture from someone who graduated from the high school up here but spent most of his life away from the Range,” said Virginia Community Foundation executive director Mary Hermanson. “I think it says a lot about the Range and the pride people have living up here.”
The foundation will use the bequest to directly benefit students in Virginia, Hermanson said, although exactly how it will be used hasn’t been decided.
The South St. Paul Educational Foundation will use the bequest to create the Marvin and Ruth Skaurud Memorial Scholarship.
“It will be endowed, so we will always be able to tell their story,” Vujovich said. “We’re very, very grateful for the support they have given our students, their belief in the kids and the education they will receive here before going off in the world and to make their own mark and hopefully give back.”