Seven siblings — all Central College alumni — honored their parents by establishing a $700,000 endowment in their names. The Allan and Grace Braskamp Family Endowment for Purpose, Meaning and Faith will support an environment, activities and programs for students, faculty and staff that enhance purpose, meaning and faith on Central’s campus.
“We’ve found considerable joy and satisfaction by working together as a family to honor our parents this way. The contributions of our folks — the love and sacrifices, along with their pride in us kids — instilled a desire to never stop learning,” says Larry Braskamp, a 1963 Central graduate, speaking on behalf of his siblings.
The concept of contributing to an endowment was important for the family. Over the next five years, the Braskamp siblings will fund an endowment to support activities and programs on campus that enhance purpose, meaning and faith, including faith-based retreats and workshops; convocations, lectures and conferences that focus on spiritual development; and purchasing supporting materials.
“We are thrilled and overjoyed by the Braskamp family and their gift to Central in honor of their parents,” says Michelle Wilkie, director of development. “This gift will have a lasting benefit for our students. It reaches to the soul of Central’s ethos — that of empathy and compassion for others. The Central community is close-knit and this endowment from the Braskamp family is a quintessential illustration of the deep love for family and Central.”
“As part of a liberal arts education, students should have opportunities to think about what’s meaningful in their life. What is the role of faith in their life? We want students to have the opportunity to foster a sense of meaning and enhance their faith from a developmental focus,” Braskamp says.
“When I tell friends about our venture, they really cannot believe that seven kids from the same family graduated from one college! They often ask, ‘How did you decide on the focus and goals of the family endowment?’” he adds.
Over the past three years the siblings have held video conference calls every other week to retain their sibling bond and more recently to discuss the focus and goals of the family endowment.
“We seven kids are proud of our parents. In establishing this endowment, we want to honor and remember them. We feel it’s appropriate to extend their influence to the lives of future students at Central. And we hope that other families may find ways to remember their parents,” Braskamp says.
This honor began with Grace and Allan, who were charter members of the Emmanuel Reformed Church in Waupun, Wisconsin. They considered Central a wonderful place to send their children because of its affiliation with the Reformed Church in America.
Over a 24-year span, from 1958 to 1981, at least one of the Braskamp siblings was attending Central almost every year. Listed in order of graduation from Central with their current home state or country of residence, they include:
- Carolyn Braskamp Homan ’62, Michigan
- Larry Braskamp ’63, Iowa
- Ken Braskamp ’65, Central trustee emeriti, California
- Janice Braskamp Welle ’68, Wisconsin
- Marcia Braskamp Myers ’72, North Carolina
- Nancy Braskamp (Kienzle) Eckert ’74, Barcelona, Spain
- Linda Braskamp ’81, Virginia
“They were so proud of us kids. They liked being called ‘Mr. and Mrs. Central College’ in their hometown of Waupun. They attended all graduations, and seldom missed coming to Central for Homecoming,” says Jan Braskamp Welle, a 1968 Central graduate and the fourth child of Grace and Allan Braskamp.
“When my sisters and brother think about the sacrifices our folks made for us, it can bring us close to tears. Mom centered her life around the seven of us and had so much joy in watching her kids develop. Mom had the right name – Grace – since she exemplified so well a life of grace,” Larry Braskamp says.
While Allan Braskamp was a dairy farmer and Grace worked at home, both had a greater purpose in life. Allan demonstrated his strong leadership skills through his involvement in community and church, serving on various boards and elected positions.
“Both ended their formal schooling at the eighth grade, yet both were intelligent and open to learning and accepting new ways of living. Mom and Dad both fought for the less privileged,” Welle says.
Through Allan Braskamp’s involvement with the RCA, they knew pastors and ministers from different places and pulpit exchanges.
“As I look back on that time, the church was incredibly important because it went beyond the local school,” Braskamp says. “It was social, educational and a place to express our talents and leadership. We grew in ways that prepared us to come to Central.”
The Braskamp siblings agree that the church, their parents’ work ethic, love for those less fortunate and their mother’s yearning to “travel the world” (five of the seven have lived outside the United States) are common themes that transcend their specific life experiences and have kept them closely connected throughout their lives. The endowment is a way of honoring the immeasurable gift of family love their parents gave to them.
“Central students and alumni continue to thrive on the deep sense of community created on campus,” says Mark Putnam, Central’s 21st president. “This endowment will support students, staff and faculty in a meaningful way. The challenges and social distancing of the past few years have made most people reassess their lives and purpose. We are privileged to support the Central family with this generous gift.”
The Braskamp siblings, all living in different locations, share a common passion. “We hope other families will find establishing an endowment as a positive opportunity to contribute to Central and to honor their loved ones,” Braskamp says.
“Forming an endowment is something wonderful that’s lasting. It’ll always be a part of Central,” Welle says.
Central College of Pella, Iowa, is a private, four-year liberal arts college. Central is known for its academic rigor and leadership formation and for cultivating diversity of thought and culture through the arts and sciences, professional fields of study and experiential learning.