Paying it forward after a sudden loss

Beth Olson Spande '66

Beth Olson Spande

Beth Olson Spande '66 stands in front of Old Main.

Beth Olson Spande '66 grew up in Mankato, Minnesota, and came to St. Olaf expecting to transfer after one year. She stayed, ultimately double-majoring in English and Norwegian. Like so many Oles, Beth appreciated the rigorous classes and close friendships she formed.

She and Dick Spande '66 met as first-year students and began dating seriously their junior year. After graduating, Beth went to Johns Hopkins University to earn a master of arts in teaching, ultimately enjoying a multifaceted career as a teacher, volunteer coordinator, and financial advisor. Dick went to Luther Seminary, became a pastor, and led congregations in Oregon, Iowa, and Minnesota. Together they raised two children and had three grandchildren.

Dick died in 2015. He was hospitalized the very day that Beth had knee replacement surgery. He lived just 11 more days. "When Dick died, we knew he hadn't been feeling well, but we had no idea how serious his illness was. We had never created an estate plan," Beth says.

After Dick died, Beth thought about the legacy they wanted to create and took action. As part of her charitable planning, she listed St. Olaf as a beneficiary of her individual retirement account.

"We figured we had a lot of time, and we didn't. You really don't know what age you will be when your life is over. A relative died from cancer at age 29. You just don't know. I am happy to complete this plan and to have done something for St. Olaf, a place that meant a lot to Dick and to me.

"Listing St. Olaf as a beneficiary of a qualified retirement plan was easy," she adds. "This just simplifies the paperwork my kids will have to deal with one day. I can still tap into my IRA if I ever need it. In the meantime, the gift is in place for St. Olaf. I want to help others get a good education like we did."

If you're interested in giving retirement plan assets, read more or contact the development office at 800-776-6523 or