Longtime Veden trustee leaves lasting legacyPublished 11:05am Thursday, May 9, 2013
He never lived in Fergus Falls, but his life left a significant mark on this community.
Kenneth Broin died a week ago at the age of 88. He had a 57-year career with US Bank, loved his Norwegian heritage and serving the Minneapolis area community.
But his service and generosity reached far beyond the metro area.
Broin was the leading trustee of the Frank Veden Charitable Trust after the passing of Dr. Frank Veden, who practiced dentistry in Fergus Falls. Veden’s aim with the trust was to fund projects that benefited Fergus Falls, Otter Tail County and western Minnesota.
“He loved Fergus Falls as much as anyone who lived here,” said Gary Spies, an advisor for the trust in the area. “He absolutely appreciated and worked very hard to accomplish the things Dr. Veden wanted done in town.”
To date, the trust has given over $7.5 million to the community and surrounding area through more than 100 entities. Nine colleges in the state and 10 high schools also receive funds and offer different scholarships from the trust.
Broin’s personality away from business matters was also very generous.
“When you think of a gentleman, he was a gentleman,” Spies said.
“He had a love of life,” said Rud Wasson, who also served as an advisor to the trust. “He just had a zest and passion for living life to the fullest.”
Wasson, Spies and Ed Mehl worked with Broin as area representatives advising the organization’s trustees. According to Wasson, Broin had a keen sense for getting money to the right places.
“Ken skillfully guided the trust in a way that has been meaningful to this area,” Wasson said. “He was always open minded. He didn’t want to waste money, but he always wanted to make sure it went to a great cause.”
The three formed a close friendship over time. When Broin visited Fergus, the group shared in their passion for the outdoors and spent time hunting together. The Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, another beneficiary of the trust, was one of Broin’s favorite places to spend time.
“He would call us and we would call him, there was never anything standoffish between us,” Wasson said. “It became a very close and good relationship that went beyond deciding money matters.”
According to Mehl, Broin’s visits to Fergus forged his respect and commitment for the community. Through the years, he came to know residents and understand what the improvements meant for the area.
“He just fell right into the community,” Mehl said. “It was the people. He enjoyed working with them and witnessing all that the projects did.”
Recipients from the trust also said Broin’s personal approach made each project special.
“He made it a point to come out and see what importance these projects had on the community,” said Tammy Anderson of Lakeland Hospice. “It meant so much more when you actually got to meet a person who helped make them happen.”
Anderson had last seen Broin this past fall. The two had connected over their shared Norwegian heritage, which was a source of fun conversation. Anderson said she will remember the special personality that surrounds his legacy.
For Wasson, that legacy has helped bolster an entire community and means more than just money.
“I think it has inspired people,” Wasson said. “It’s supplemented people, but also has given people of all ages the hope to fulfill their dreams.”