MSU Alumni Foundation
1501 South 11th Avenue
P.O. Box 172750
Bozeman, MT 59717-2750
Tel: (406) 994-2053
Toll Free: (800) 457-1696
Fax: (406) 994-6081
President & CEO
Steele Reese Foundation Creates Endowed Scholarship Fund at MSU
In the fall of 2006, the Steele Reese Foundation created a scholarship endowment at Montana State University for students graduating from high school in the Custer and Lemhi counties in the state of Idaho. Over the past 5 years, the Steele Reese Foundation has made several gifts to Montana State University that have funded programs ranging from supporting an endowed chair in MSU’s Libraries to educational workshops for teacher education. The foundation’s most recent gift of scholarship holds true to Emmet and Eleanor’s vision of helping people to help themselves by providing financial support to students interested in attending Montana State University.
Throughout Eleanor Steele Reese’s life and since the foundation’s inception in 1955 the Steele Reese Foundation has made a difference in the lives of thousands of people and in the efforts of hundreds of organizations, including Montana State University. Born into a privileged family, and trained to be an opera singer, Eleanor Steele Reese was an adventurous young woman who traveled west to start a new life at an age when many people were comfortably settling in to middle age. After visiting the rugged Rocky Mountains, she never returned to the East or to the world of professional music.
Adapting to the rugged characteristics of the mountains, Eleanor met and married Emmet Reese in 1941. Their life on Pine Creek Ranch in a narrow mountain valley near Shoup, Idaho was simple and strenuous. Eleanor helped with the manual labor of building the log structures, cooked for the ranch hands year after year, canned most of the fruit and vegetables grown and used on the ranch, and kept the breeding and business records on their herd of Hereford bulls.
The Reeses gained their living from the proceeds of their labor and Eleanor’s inheritance remained intact. It was her duty, she felt, to put it to a permanent good use. After years of pondering the problem, she set up the Steele-Reese Foundation in 1955 in honor of her own and Emmet’s families. By the time Eleanor and Emmet died, they had given almost everything they owned to the foundation.
Because the Reeses took more satisfaction in helping others than in indulging themselves, they avoided credit for their philanthropy. The attitude behind their giving was as firm and unsentimental as every aspect of their lives on the ranch: they wanted to help people and organizations to help themselves, and they knew that simply giving handouts often weakened, rather than helped the recipients.
“The Steele Reese Foundation’s generous gift will put a university education within reach for many talented students in the rural Custer and Lemhi counties in Idaho,” says MSU President Geoff Gamble. “The creation of this scholarship demonstrates our shared commitment to increasing the participation of students within rural communities at Montana State University.”