“It felt like cutting off my right arm,” Harvey Peterson ’52 says about selling CATCO, the company that had been in his family for three generations. He joined his father Art’s fledgling company, Clutch and Transmission Services, in 1951 while still an Augsburg student.
By the time the family sold the renamed company in 2012, all three of his children worked in the business. The firm, selling and servicing heavy duty parts for trucks, had grown to 18 locations spread over a five-state area.
Suddenly Harvey and his spouse Joanne ’52 faced a stewardship decision. What to do with the resources God had placed in their care?
Investing in vitality, making an impact
They chose to give $250,000 to Augsburg College to sponsor the Electronic Modern Physics Laboratory in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion.
Interestingly, they do not have a personal tie to physics. Harvey, a star athlete in high school and college, double majored in business and sociology. Joanne majored in sociology with minors in English and business. Her favorite activity on campus was singing in the Augsburg Choir.
So why sponsor a physics lab?
“We want to be part of the forward momentum at Augsburg”
“The Center for Science, Business, and Religion demonstrates how Augsburg is preparing for the future with energy and vitality, and we know that the CSBR is the next step to helping the school advance,” Joanne explains. “We want to be a part of that forward momentum.”
Harvey adds: “We have been giving to Augsburg for many years, and we had an opportunity after selling our business to increase our support. This gift is about our Christian faith and about relationships. We wanted to give something back to the place that means so much to us.”
“We want to support Augsburg College because we are thrilled that young people, especially those who have very little money, can gain access to a college education,” Joanne says. “And we appreciate the college’s urban location.”
Choosing connection over differences
They have deep ties to the College beyond their own student years, when each lived with their families while commuting to campus for classes and activities. Their daughter Lia ’89 graduated from Weekend College, and Harvey served on Augsburg’s Board of Regents from 1984-1996. He was elected to the Augsburg Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983 for his contributions as a quarterback for the football team and shortstop and third baseman for the baseball team.
Harvey says he and Joanne are more conservative than many people on campus today. That potentially could have gotten in the way of their support for Augsburg. He reflects: “Our faith teaches us to give. And now when we reach the point in our lives where we can give a more sizeable gift, we think carefully about where to put our dollars. We ask ourselves, ‘What do we love?’ And we realize how much we love Augsburg. This college has meant so much to us over the years. We feel it is a good place for us to put the money.”
Paid-up life insurance policy made a wonderful gift
They are surrendering a life insurance policy to Augsburg College, which had gained more value than they realized. Augsburg will sell the policy for the cash value to make the dollars available immediately for the CSBR. Giving this investment provided tax advantages, and the couple added a gift of cash to expand their gift. “We set up the policy years ago,” Harvey says, “but we had ignored the notices on value. Suddenly this seemed like a wonderful choice for a charitable gift.”
They live in Edina, Minn., and are members of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis.