Luverne, Rock County organizations receive more than $4.56 million

LUVERNE -- According to Luverne attorney Don Klosterbuer, Harvey Allison Ordung was a fairly simple man. The first time the two met, Klosterbuer described an older man of about 5 feet 5 inches tall, wearing bib overalls that hung about six to eig...

Harvey Ordung
Harvey "Allie" Ordung bequeathed more than $4,566,000 to foundations and organizations in the Luverne area. (Submitted photo)

LUVERNE -- According to Luverne attorney Don Klosterbuer, Harvey Allison Ordung was a fairly simple man.

The first time the two met, Klosterbuer described an older man of about 5 feet 5 inches tall, wearing bib overalls that hung about six to eight inches off the ground. He wore bedroom slippers wherever he went and loved to visit with the business people in the community.

Ordung died Oct. 30, 2007, at the age of 84. On Wednesday, a special press conference and ceremony honored the local man everyone knew as "Allie." That simple man had, with his death, gifted more than $4,566,800 to a dozen agencies and organizations in Luverne and Rock County.

More than half of the bequest, $2,927,448, was presented to representatives of the Luverne Dollars for Scholars program at the Wednesday morning ceremony in the commons of the Luverne Elementary School. Education and the youths of the community were regarded highly by Ordung, and Dollars for Scholars was his favorite charity.

Gregg Gropel, former Luverne Community Education director, long-time friend of Ordung and Luverne Dollars for Scholars board member, said the gift makes Luverne's Dollars for Scholars endowment the second largest in the nation, at approximately $6 million.


"The money that Harvey is leaving, as it works through our funding situation, will eventually help students through their second or third year of college," said Gropel. "The impact is going to be great."

Ordung attended District 10 School through the eighth grade and graduated with honors from Luverne High School in 1940. He returned to farm with his parents, while his older brother, Franklin, went on to graduate from South Dakota State University in Brookings before landing a career teaching electrical engineering at Yale. The elder sibling later started the electrical engineering program at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Ordung family established a scholarship in Luverne Dollars for Scholars in December 2000.

"(Harvey Ordung) said the youth are our country's future," Gropel said. "Since he didn't have any children, he wanted to continue on with the scholarship program."

The Green Earth Players was one of eight organizations to receive a check Wednesday, which was written in the amount of $58,548.96. Ordung was a fan of the GEP productions and appreciated anyone with any kind of talent, said Gropel.

"We're grateful, but also humbled, by the opportunity," said GEP board member Fred Manfred. "Harvey sat in the middle section, on the left side, in the front row of every play."

"It was very important for him to have that seat," added fellow board member Terri Ebert. "He didn't miss a play. He was to every one until he was too sick to come."

The Green Earth Players group doesn't know yet what the money will be used for. They just recently learned of the gift and won't meet as a board again until September.


"We certainly want it to benefit the community as a whole," said GEP board member Dianne Ossenfort.

The Mary Jane Brown Good Samaritan Center in Luverne received its gift of $292,744.79 on Wednesday. Administrator Tony Linn, said that while Ordung lived at the center he loved to tell jokes -- especially those about bachelors.

An avid pool player, Ordung spent his first month at the center telling people that the home needed a pool table. Gropel said one day Ordung asked, "What if I paid for the pool table. Do I have enough money?"

The new pool table was purchased, and Ordung joked with Linn one day that the reason he wasn't married was because he spent too much time in the pool hall.

"He was a very unassuming character and a good example of never judge a book by its cover," said Linn. "We really enjoyed the time that we shared with Harvey, we miss him and we're going to put this (money) to good use."

The Mary Jane Brown Home plans to use the funds to build a traditional care unit on its facility. The unit will feature private rooms and suites for individuals who are recovering from broken hips or knee replacements, Linn said.

Other agencies receiving gifts include the Luverne Community Health Care Foundation's hospital fund drive, to which Ordung pledged $117,097.92; the Luverne Community Health Care Foundation (use not specified), $175,646.88; the Rock County Developmental Achievement Center, $117,098.92; and the Shriner's Hospital for Crippled Children and the Shriner's Burns Institutes, $468,391.67. The eight entities receiving gifts of $58,548.96 included the Maplewood Cemetery Association, First Presbyterian Church, Rock County Historical Society, Green Earth Players, Ben Franklin (Masonic) Lodge, Rock County Senior Citizens, Luverne School Foundation (Community Education) and Luverne School Foundation (not specified).

Gropel said the nearly two years since Ordung's death have been spent working on the details of the estate. The man had more than 50 different mutual funds and, at the time Gropel met Ordung in 1984, he had "well over 300 different stock companies" in which he had invested.


"After Harvey's mother died in 1968, his father said it was time to live off the fat of the land," said Gropel. "They quit farming and rented out the land on crop shares and then went fishing."

When Ordung's father died in 1980, Gropel said the fishing poles were put away and Ordung never went fishing again.

"He took over managing the funds and the finances, and it was certainly a job he proved to be competent at."

Klosterbuer said he once told Ordung while working on the will, "I don't think you understand the impact that what you are doing here is going to have an impact on the community for years to come."

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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