Montana State University

Wanke gives $2.7 million to MSU Animal Bioscience Teaching Facility

November 9, 2007


Harold and Evelyn Wanke   High-Res Available

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Evelyn B. Wanke of Rudyard has pledged $2.7 million to building the Montana State University College of Agriculture's Animal Bioscience Teaching Facility.

The planned gift was made anonymously in 2006 but made public during MSU Agriculture Appreciation Weekend Nov. 2-3.

In explaining why she wanted to donate to the Animal Bioscience Teaching Facility, Wanke said, "My husband always wanted to be a veterinarian, and my family went to MSU."

Jeff Jacobsen, dean of MSU's College of Agriculture, said two conference rooms will be named in honor of Evelyn Wanke and her late husband Harold Wanke, who died in 1995.

Evelyn Wanke was born Evelyn Berge on May 22, 1929 on her parents' homestead north of Rudyard. She was the youngest of Eivind and Clara Sande Berge's four children. She attended Rudyard Public Schools and graduated valedictorian in 1947. Though she had a scholarship to college, Evelyn chose not to go. Instead, she married her high school sweetheart Harold Richard Wanke in Cut Bank in 1949, and they enjoyed 46 years together before his death Sept. 23, 1995.

The Wankes had a farm near Rudyard, but also pursued other occupations. Evelyn Wanke began working for the Marias River Electric Cooperative in 1947 as a stenographer and worked her way up to office manager during 13 years of employment there. When the opportunity arose, Harold Wanke invested in the Independence Bank in Havre. Evelyn Wanke now lives in Rudyard and is an active member of Our Savior's Lutheran Church and an avid bridge player, reader and traveler.

Wanke said when she began estate planning with her friend and advisor, Max Erickson, she realized that her family would actually be better off if she contributed to programs she was interested in rather than leaving her estate to be taxed. Evelyn Wanke's friends and family with her during Agriculture Appreciation Weekend on campus included her niece, Karen Cahill and husband, Tom Cahill, and Max L. Erickson, ChFC, and his wife Cindy Erickson.

"We are truly grateful for her generosity and support of this new facility in helping to educate the next generation of ag producers and researchers," said Jacobsen.

Contact: Sandra Germann (406) 994-7671 or sgermann@montana.edu