September 11, 2017
Mike and Donna Wolsted share a passion for music. Mike's a producer, recording and replicating compact discs for choirs, polka bands, jazz ensembles, and earlier, for rock groups. Donna manages the visual art component of its packaging. They've partnered on music projects for St. Olaf College for close to 40 years, producing more than 100 titles in the process.
While they're neither alumni nor parents of Oles, they've seen the important role music and global engagement has played in the lives of many St. Olaf students. They traveled with the St. Olaf Choir to Asia in 1986. In March of 2016, the Wolsteds traveled to Cuba with the St. Olaf Jazz Band. "It was an eye-opening experience for us," Donna says. Mike adds, "Travel expands one's horizons. It is important to get out of our own little world to see and experience other cultures."
They became aware that travel costs are a barrier for some students.
"Say an incredible instrumental or vocal soloist could not afford to travel with their ensemble. It would be a travesty for the group to lose a top student-musician and a travesty for the individual to not to get the international experience. Donna and I want to assist St. Olaf music students to be able to afford St. Olaf international tours."
To that end, the Wolsteds created a charitable remainder trust in their estate plan to provide financial assistance to students in the college's touring ensembles.
The trust will provide income for Donna after Mike dies. After Donna's lifetime, the remaining value of the trust will benefit the Sigrid and Robert "BJ" Johnson Endowed Fund. Established by Mike and Donna in 2013, the fund honors the Johnsons, who retired after decades of service to St. Olaf—Sigrid as professor of music and conductor of Manitou Singers and BJ as the music organizations manager.
"St. Olaf is unique in having such superb balance and quality among its musical ensembles," Mike says. "It is rewarding for us to experience music performed by Oles. Giving this gift was a really easy choice for us."
"In our estate planning we had a choice between giving money to the government or to St. Olaf, one of our favorite charities," Donna adds. "It is our pleasure to do this for the college, which has done so much for us."