1960 Graduate Leaves $110,000 Gift to 544 Education Foundation

February 15, 2020 by 544foundation

The Fergus Falls 544 Education Foundation recently received a $110,000 gift from the estate of Karen (Kielmeyer) Matteson, a former Fergus Falls resident and 1960 graduate of Fergus Falls High School. “This gift was a complete surprise,” said Mindy Fuder, the Foundation’s Executive Director, “and we will use part of the gift to fund some of the grant requests that went unfunded last fall. The Foundation’s mission is to raise, invest and grant money to support educational programs, and this generous gift will benefit so many students and classrooms!”

Karen Matteson

Karen Kielmeyer attended grade school at McKinley Elementary School. As she grew, she developed a special fondness for English and was known to be an excellent typist. Those skills were put to good use as part of “The Otter” and yearbook staffs. Karen was also a member of the choir, Secretaries of Tomorrow Association, National Honor Society, Red Cross and Pep Club, and even had a role in a Thespian play. In addition, she would help Margaret Kratzke in the office, running the switchboard during her study hall.

Karen returned to Fergus Falls a few years after graduation to care for her ailing parents. It was during this time she became a secretary in the FFHS Counseling Office. While working at the high school, she became a dear friend of another FFHS teacher, Grace Halcrow.

After the passing of her parents, Karen left Fergus Falls, found a job and met her husband Jack. Even while living in Sarasota, FL, Karen helped out with the Class of 1960 reunion planning and classmates would visit when they were in the “neighborhood”. Jack passed away in 1998 and shortly thereafter, Karen moved to North Carolina, where she lived until her death in November 2018.

The Foundation’s Grant and Scholarship Committee funded six additional grant requests and carefully selected those that were in line with interests Karen had while she was a Fergus Falls student. To honor Karen’s love for music, funds were given to the Middle School Band Program to buy a new trombone and to provide money for the instrument repair fund. In line with her time putting together yearbooks, her donation helped buy 6 Mac Book Pros to be used by current yearbook staff and students. In addition, grants were awarded to fund various technology needs: 20 Chromebooks and a cart for the Alternative Learning Center, six iPad minis and cases for EACH kindergarten class at McKinley Elementary School, four iPads for a 3rd grade classroom at Cleveland Elementary School and three mobile Chromebook labs to be used throughout Kennedy Secondary School.

“I saw tears from more than one teacher when I told them their grants would receive funding because of this wonderful gift,” said Mindy, “and we hope Karen’s family would be proud of how her gift was used to benefit the students and teachers in areas that were important to her. We are beyond grateful for this gift.”

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