Ruth and Dr. Philip C. Helland '42: Making a Long-Held Dream a Reality

Donor Photo

Ruth and Dr. Philip C. Helland ’42

What does it feel like to serve during wartime as lead flight navigator with as many as 1,000 planes to shepherd back to base? It came naturally to Dr. Philip C. Helland '42. Serving in England for the Army Air Corps during World War II, he flew 29 missions in B17s and B24s. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, four air medals and four bronze stars, ending his service as Captain.

Where did he develop those natural leadership skills? He always gave credit to his mathematics classes at Augsburg for helping him navigate successfully. His ability to stay calm under pressure played a major role as well.

Helland often said that his liberal arts education helped him handle whatever came his way in life. Signifying gratitude for his Augsburg education was one of the reasons he and his wife established the Philip and Ruth Helland Scholarship in memory of Judith Maria Helland, their daughter, in 2012.

Ruth says: "We were not wealthy. Phil had always been a public servant. However, we had talked about wanting to endow a scholarship at Augsburg in memory of our daughter, Judith. We hadn't yet acted on it, and, due to his Alzheimer's, my husband's memory was fading. Our son, Michael, encouraged me to take action and get this set up while Phil was still alive. So I did. I called the college to express our interest, and Doug Scott from the advancement office helped us do what we had dreamed of doing."

Helland had close family ties to Augsburg. His father Mikkal graduated from Augsburg Academy, Augsburg and Augsburg Seminary. Three of Phil's siblings also graduated from Augsburg: Jean, Erling and Florence.

When he came home from the war, while earning a Master of Education degree at the University of Minnesota, Helland lived at Augsburg and taught physical education there to support himself. Later he received a Doctor of Education degree from Teachers College, Columbia University. He taught high school in Elbow Lake and Bagley, and was a principal in Wadena and Willmar, all Minnesota towns.

While he was a principal, he met Ruth. He had come to Bemidji, where Ruth taught high school, to cheer on the Wadena team at a track meet. Phil often said teasingly that he saw her running the 440 at that meet. Actually, they met on the sidelines.

They married in 1954 and went to Europe where Helland was principal of U.S. army high schools in Orleans, France and Augsburg, Germany. In 1957 they returned to Willmar where he became superintendent of schools. Ruth recalls: "There was an air force base in Willmar that had become obsolete. Hubert Humphrey helped arrange for that base to be purchased for $1 and turned into the Willmar Junior College and Vocational School."

Helland became the founding president.

Later, the Minnesota Legislature asked Helland to develop a new state system of community colleges; he became the founding chancellor of the Minnesota Community College System. He organized, expanded and led the system of 18 two-year colleges for 20 years until his retirement in 1983. Now these colleges have been incorporated into the Minnesota State College and University System (MnSCU).

Phil served Augsburg on the Alumni Board and Board of Regents, and served on college boards at Golden Valley Lutheran, St. Benedict's and Gustavus Adolphus, in addition to the Fairview Hospital corporate board and the founding board of Fairview Ridges Hospital, and on state and national professional boards.

Phil passed away in 2012, but not until after their dream of establishing the scholarship was fulfilled. Ruth says that when she wrote the check to establish the named scholarship: "I felt full of joy. I still do."

She says that establishing the Augsburg scholarship helped her and Phil accomplish three things: "Honor a person, honor the college and help a student. I feel joyful that Phil and I could do this and in some small way help students today."

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Augsburg University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Augsburg University, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 2211 Riverside Ave., CB 142, Minneapolis, MN 55454, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Augsburg University or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Augsburg University as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Augsburg University as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Augsburg University where you agree to make a gift to Augsburg University and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address