A tribute to retiring trustee Bill Lipschultz

The year 1961 was a seminal year for the Otto Bremer Foundation. While the Foundation had been a legal entity as a charitable trust since 1944, this was the year that Otto Bremer’s assets were transferred to the Foundation, in the amount of $4.6 million. This was also the year that William H. Lipschultz succeeded his father, Samuel Lipschultz, as trustee.

The year 2012 marks the 51st year Bill has served as a trustee of the Foundation and the year he will retire and be succeeded by his son, Brian. Bill has lent a steady hand and brought continuity and insight to a multitude of changes that have occurred throughout the years.

Bill began his time at Bremer working alongside trustees Larry Carr and Ben Ridder, who, with Samuel Lipschultz, were key architects in helping Otto Bremer design and begin to implement his vision for the Foundation. The trustees were responsible for overseeing the operation of a growing for-profit banking enterprise while organizing and executing a philanthropic mission in accordance with Otto’s wishes. Each trustee brought important skills to the table in areas of finance, community relations and philanthropy.

When he joined the Foundation, Bill was already a successful sales executive in the paper and packaging industry. He was an entrepreneur whose people skills and focus on the needs of all his stakeholders (customers, employees, investors) led to his prominence in the local business community. He also invested time and effort in numerous charitable organizations, often serving in leadership roles. All these pursuits helped to shape Bill’s approach to his work as a trustee as the Foundation grew and its activities evolved.

Over the years, new trustees were appointed, including Robert Reardon and Gordon Shepard, who, along with Bill, brought wisdom, acumen, leadership and vision to the Foundation. The Foundation’s primary asset, Bremer Financial Corporation, grew as a market leader in the Upper Midwest at the same time the Foundation’s philanthropic efforts continued to expand, reaching broader and deeper into Bremer communities. As part of his duties, Bill served as an officer and director of Bremer Financial Corporation, including time as chairman of the board of directors. Bill continued his service as a trustee to the Foundation and mentored another generation of trustees as Charlotte Johnson and Daniel Reardon joined the Foundation. Despite surprises and challenges for both the Foundation and the region over the decades, the Foundation has grown exponentially, thanks to solid leadership and continual growth of the Foundation’s primary asset. In 2011, the Foundation’s assets exceeded $750 million with approximately $30.5 million distributed in grants and program-related investments. Things have come a long way!

To borrow one of his favorite phrases, Bill has decided that it is time for him to be “moving right along.” We take comfort in knowing that Bill has helped build a strong infrastructure and set the course for moving towards our vision. We also know that he is still close at hand should we need his sound advice. The trustees and staff thank Bill for all that he has given to the Foundation and to the communities and organizations that have benefited from his dedication and contributions. His impact will be felt well into the future.