After decades of generous support, The DeWitt and Caroline Van Evera Foundation will sunset their operations this year and make a final gift to Northland College, providing scholarship awards to five Northland students.
Mary was a lifelong friend of Northland President Malcolm McLean, as the two grew up together in Duluth, Minnesota. She served on Northland’s board from 1978 to 2008, providing enthusiasm, leadership, and support to every major initiative of the era, including the Robert Rue Parsonage Fund for Student Opportunities, the restoration of Wheeler Hall, the renovation of the Dexter Library, and the construction of the Larson-Juhl Center for Science and the Environment. When Northland’s leadership insisted on naming the Visual Arts Center in her honor, she demurred, asserting that she did not need recognition for her deeds and “you get more done when others get the credit.”
Her son Stephen described her as “addicted to Northland,” fiercely committed to its mission, as well as the ethos of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute. Mary appreciated that the College was not elitist, as she felt strongly about institutions that served the common good, making a place of dignity and belonging for everyone. A lifelong Christian, she identified with the Jewish concept of “tikkun olam,” meaning “repair of the world.” Mary’s translation was “go help someone, heal a wound, do a good deed,” her son remembers. A grateful college remembers, too.
Mary Van Evera passed away in 2018 at the age of ninety-six.