Liechtys among patrons of art, educationOne of the characteristics separating growing communities from those dying or dead is the involvement of business leaders in arts and education. Patrons have always been a vital component in promoting the arts. Every successful town has its long-time patrons who have been a vital force in growth, and here in Jamestown, Reuben and Clarice Liechty are two among a large number who have put their money where their proverbial mouths are.
By: Sharon Cox, The Jamestown Sun
One of the characteristics separating growing communities from those dying or dead is the involvement of business leaders in arts and education. Patrons have always been a vital component in promoting the arts. Every successful town has its long-time patrons who have been a vital force in growth, and here in Jamestown, Reuben and Clarice Liechty are two among a large number who have put their money where their proverbial mouths are.
Whether donating to the Arts Center or Jamestown College, the Liechtys are present as a strong force for support. One would expect that of a city’s mayor, and that has been true for ours. Just about every mayor has made his or her support known by funding special events and causes. I for one am thrilled they have made a donation to both the Arts Center’s summer class funds and to Jamestown College to renovate and make improvements in and on Taber Hall.
Whether you are fond of keeping a building’s original architecture or not, there is a special tradition among colleges: They all tend to keep the old buildings in working order, because students like the character those wonderful old structures lend. It’s like being at home with grandparents and loved ones while attending classes in glorious old buildings.
The Liechtys gave the college $1 million to renovate historic Taber Hall.
“Taber Hall has a lot of history,” said Reuben Liechty, who is a member of the college’s board of trustees. “Almost any student who attended Jamestown College would have memories of that building.”
And that area will appropriately bear their name. The Liechty Center will include a new entrance on the west side of Taber, a renovated entrance on the east side, a new main floor lobby and a renovated lower level housing admissions and financial aid offices. Handicapped-accessible restrooms, an elevator, new windows, furnishings and new floor coverings will be added to the lower level.
Renovation began in May and will continue into the 2008-09 school year. Public areas such as the entrances and restrooms are expected to be ready when the fall semester begins.
Polly Peterson, vice president for institutional advancement, said the Liechtys have been a constant support for the college.
“Clarice and Reuben’s generosity throughout the years has resulted in significant improvements in not only the college’s physical plant, but also in scholarship and programming at Jamestown College,” she said. “Taber Hall is a building that pulls at the heartstrings of nearly all of our alumni. To be able to renovate it in this way provides assurance that the building will be around for future generations to enjoy and for our alumni to reminisce. We are honored to be the recipient of this generous gift from Reuben and Clarice.”
Taber Hall houses the college’s administrative offices, and was built in 1913 at a cost of $20,000. The building was financed by the widow of Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the reaper, and named for Henry M. Taber, who was instrumental in reopening the college in 1909 as chairman of the Board of Trustees.
Dr. Robert Badal, in the college’s news release, said “The story of Taber Hall is the story of Jamestown College. “President Kroeze went to Mrs. Nettie Fowler McCormick, widow of the great inventor, to ask for the money to build it. She agreed, but only on the condition it would be built within one year’s time and on budget. Kroeze returned to Jamestown and asked Taber, the Board chairman, to personally supervise the construction. A year later,” Badal said, “Kroeze returned to Chicago with the receipts from the completed project and a check for what was not expended. No one had ever before brought a dollar back to Mrs. Mc-Cormick. Because of his stewardship and love of Jamestown College, she named the building for Mr. Taber. “
Badal continued listing the history by praising the Liechtys.
“Now Reuben and Clarice Liechty continue in the same spirit as the original benefactor to keep this building alive for future generations of Jamestown College students,” he said. “We are so grateful to be able to keep this building as a central part of our campus and our 125 year history.”
The Liechtys are longtime supporters of James-town College, and in recent years they have made gifts toward the fine arts as well as the Unruh and Sheldon Center for Business and Computer Science. They have contributed toward the Larson Center, and the front entrance to James-town College is also a gift from the Liechtys. Clarice Liechty, as mayor of Jamestown, is a 1983 graduate of Jamestown College.
Reuben Liechty has served on the Board of Trustees since 1993 and previously from 1977 to 1983. Their son, Richard, is a 1990 graduate of James-town College. The Liechtys are engaged in farming and real estate.
“We feel the college is doing a great job of giving young people the education they need to succeed and doing so in a caring atmosphere,” Liechty said.
The Liechtys believe Jamestown College is an important part of the city of Jamestown.
“We want to thank all who have invested in the college, as their gifts are also an investment in the community,” said the mayor.
The Liechtys are not the only Jamestown residents who have contributed to the fine arts and education. There are many who have and everyone who has deserves his name in headlines. There isn’t a building on campus, nor an addition or improvement that hasn’t been lovingly donated by benefactors. Every one of them needs to wear a badge that says “Hero in Education.” It’s the same for the Arts Center downtown, and those at just about any city around. Without the unselfish leaders, patrons of the arts, benefactors in education, very little would ever be done.
Those of us in education and the arts are beholden and certainly recognize without those wonderful people there’d be no need for any of us. We’d have to teach from home and keep our creativity to ourselves. God bless you all who put others first and especially education of our youth. They will become tomorrow’s leaders and hopefully carry on the tradition you have started.
If anyone has an item for this column, please send the name of the organization, a contact person, dates and locations, times and purpose of the event and any charges to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559. Be sure to include the name and address of the person submitting the information and a phone number where you can be contacted during day hours. It is also a good idea to give two-three weeks leeway for it running in The Sun.