WINONA, Minn. — We don't know a lot, and that's how Lucille G. Stiever and Robert J. Stiever wanted it.
What we do know is this: St. Mary's University in Winona received a gift of $5 million from the estate of Lucille Stiever. It represents the largest gift in the history of SMU, according to a statement from the university.
The money will go to fund scholarships for students based on need, according to the university.
"The Stiever estate directed that the funds be used to establish an endowment to fund student scholarships for the undergraduate college in Winona," said Benjamin Murray, executive vice president and CFO at SMU. "With an endowment, the funds are invested and the annual earnings are used to fund the donor-restricted purpose in perpetuity. In this case, the annual earnings will fund scholarships."
Murray said the Board of Trustees oversees the investment portfolio and approves the annual distributions from the university's endowed funds. Currently, the funds are seeing a 5% rate of return over a three-year rolling average.
Any earnings beyond that which are not used will be reinvested into the fund's capital, helping earn more money for the scholarships down the road.
That's a lot of money and, likely, a lot of deserving students who will have their education funded in whole or in part by this gift.
So, who are these generous benefactors?
Well, here's the story, as much as we know.
Robert Stiever was born in Wabasha, Minn., in 1921, and was a 1939 graduate of St. Felix High School, back in the day when the parish school taught all grades. Three years later, with America at war, Stiever joined the U.S. Army, and was stationed in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater during World War II, before his honorable discharge in 1946.
Over the next three years, he earned a degree from SMU, and later pursued graduate studies at Marquette University and the University of Minnesota.
Robert spent 40 years as an economist and accountant for the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation and the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service before retiring.
Meanwhile, Lucille Giblin was born in La Crosse, Wis., in 1931, and grew up on her family farm near Caledonia. She and Robert married in 1961, and Lucille spent 30 years working for the Ramsey County Public Library, where she retired as the office and property manager..
The couple loved learning, were avid readers, and loved to travel, according to their obituaries. They lived in Minneapolis, but also resided at Lucille's family farm near Caledonia. They loved the Minnesota Twins, visiting spring training most years.
Lucille, who died Jan. 2, 2019, and Robert, who died almost a full year before on Jan. 12, 2018, set up a gift to SMU to be handed over after their deaths.
Deb Nahrgang, spokeswoman for SMU, said the couple did not have family to survive them, and the gift of $5 million came through an attorney who insisted the university not pass along his or her name to media.
"Both Robert and Lucille were lifelong learners, and both were avid readers," a statement from the university read. "It was their desire that their estate gift be used for undergraduate students on the Winona Campus with financial need so that more students would be able to afford a college education."
So, an enormous gift, quietly given, will certainly elicit a lot of thanks from students, but those are thanks the Stievers will never hear.