Scholarship fund began in 1993
By Chad Koenen
From humble beginnings in Almora to a long career in the banking industry, Lloyd Amundson never forgot the roots that made him the person he has become today.
As he looks out his window on a cold “spring” morning a few weeks ago, the longtime stalwart of the Henning community reflected on a career that spanned decades, as well as his willingness to give back to the communities that made him such a success in the banking industry.
It seems almost surreal, in many ways, that a man who was raised without electricity and running water has given over $7 million in scholarships as part of the Lloyd and Barb Amundson scholarship fund. The investments they have made in the community, and the residents, has spanned multiple generations.
“If a student in one of the schools gives us a completed application there are very good odds they are going to get (a scholarship).”Lloyd Amundson
Born in 1926 in Almora, Amundson lived in rural Henning without running water and didn’t have electricity until he was 13 years old. After finding success in the banking industry, Amundson and his wife Barb never forgot where they came from, and how important education was in their success.
Amundson recalled the conversation the couple had when Barb asked Lloyd how he would have made it through college without the G.I. Bill, something he said would not have likely happened.
“Barb and I were driving around and were just thinking about what we can do to help people we knew,” said Amundson.
The scholarship program began in 1993 with 11 scholarships totaling $10,000. Two of those scholarship winners came from Henning High School, while the remainder came from communities in which the Amundsons owned banks. It was a way for the family to invest in the future of their community, while also giving back to the people who have helped to make them successful over the years.
The scholarship program awarded 145 scholarships this year alone totaling $370,500. Over the past 30 years a total of 5,675 scholarships have been awarded to students in which the Amundsons own a bank, as well as Henning School. The total amount of money that has been donated as part of the scholarship fund totals $7,178,000
Ironically, perhaps, many children of the first scholarship recipients are now filling out applications for the Lloyd and Barb Amundson scholarship fund.
A priority in their giving has been in the nursing industry. Not only are there a shortage of nurses in the region, but Amundson said they also perform many of the day-to-day operations at hospitals and clinics. Those nursing shortages have been magnified even more since the COVID-19 pandemic began taking a toll on the health care industry two years ago.
In addition to the high school scholarships, the Amundsons donated millions of dollars for other organizations, including Mayo Clinic. The Amundsons donated $10 million to the Rochester based organization to sponsor two professorships at a cost of $2 million apiece, as well as set up a nursing scholarship.
They have also donated $500,000 to the University of Minnesota and Augustana for nursing scholarships, as well as sizable donations to Augsburg and the University of Hawaii for additional nursing scholarships. There have been donations to hospice facilities, the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital and even the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Henning.
With a smile, Amundson said those sizable donations don’t include all of the smaller contributions they made to each of their communities to help them grow and prosper over the years.
About Lloyd and Barb Amundson
Amundson graduated from Henning High School in 1943 and like many other males in his class he enlisted in the armed forces. He enlisted in the Navy Air Corps where he became an amphibian plane pilot and served in the Pacific war theatre.
During the Pacific battles, Amundson’s seaplane was pressed into action as a courier for negotiators signing an agreement for use of the Bikini Atoll as an atomic bomb test site. He and another pilot flew the military governor of the Marshall Islands, along with the Life Magazine photographer, to the Bikini Atoll to negotiate with the chief for a new place for his people to live.
After his service, Amundson attended Moorhead State University, St. Olaf in Northfield and eventually earned a degree in business administration from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on the G.I. Bill.
Following graduation he moved to Rochester, Minn. where he worked for an insurance company for 10 years. He then moved to Omaha, Neb. where he was a sales manager for the Cornhusker Motor Club, part of the AAA organization.
A year later he moved back to Minnesota where he entered into the banking business with his brother and another partner. Ten years later the three sold out and went their separate ways. Amundson used the proceeds from his shares to buy the State Bank of Madison in December 1971 and also bought the bank in Buffalo Lake, Minn. Over the years Amundson has purchased banks throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa and Montana.
More about the scholarship
Since its inception in 1993, the Lloyd and Barb Amundson Scholarship has awarded 5,675 scholarships totaling $7,178,000 to students in communities served by banks owned by the Amundson family, as well as Henning High School.
This year alone, 145 students will receive an Amundson Scholarship with the total amount being awarded this year totaling $370,500. The scholarships are awarded to the children of bank customers owned by Lloyd and Barb Amundson in Minnesota, North Dakota, Iowa and Montana, as well as Amundson’s alma mater in Henning.
In Henning, 12 students will receive an Amundson Scholarship this year for a total of $28,000. Over the past 30 years, the Henning High School alum has awarded 648 scholarships totaling $644,000 to Henning students.