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Vern Jones
Courtesy Photo
Vern Jones
Sturgis foundation receives surprise gift
F.Ganje - September 12, 2017

STURGIS, SD – It’s not every day that an unexpected monetary gift comes along…let alone a million dollar one.

But that’s exactly what happened when Rosemary Roth, a board member of the First Interstate Bank Greater Sturgis Area Foundation met with Sturgis attorney, Dale Hansen.  It was right after the 76th annual Sturgis Motorcyle Rally, she recalls.

“I got a phone call asking f I could meet with Dale Hansen at his law office the week after the rally,” she remembers.  “When I went in, he told me that a gentleman by the name of Vern Jones, who had died the past February, had bequeathed the foundation over a million dollars.  I was speechless.”   

The First Interstate Bank Greater Sturgis Area Foundation organized with a mission of benefiting the greater Sturgis area.  With seed money raised of $100,000 almost three decades ago, the Foundation’s account balance has grown to over half a million dollars. From that, annual interest payments have funded charitable organizations. In the past five years, the foundation has changed its emphasis from helping several organizations to gifting resources to broader causes.

“For a long time, we supported many different organizations,” says Roth. “In the past five years or so we have changed direction and are supporting projects that have a benefit to the entire community.

“For example,” she shares, “we made it possible to have the fireplaces installed at the Harley Davidson Rally Point in downtown Sturgis.  We also provided funding for the Tom Monahan sculpture by Sturgis artist Dale Lamphere, that is located at Rally Point.”

Vern Jones was an unassuming person who loved Sturgis, according to his sisters who fully support their only brother’s decision to bequeath the foundation.  Everywhere he went his quiet generosity followed and he was proud to be honored by Mayor Carstensen and all his Sturgis Senior Center friends on October 21, 2016, which was declared "Vern Jones Day." 

“He was active in the community with the Kiwanis Food Bank and the Sturgis Senior Citizen’s Center,” shares Roth. “Mr. Jones grew up on farms near Sundance, WY, and Sturgis, SD, attended high school here, and really cared about Sturgis. He wanted to do something lasting for this community that would make a difference.”

Brett Lynass is president of the First Interstate Bank Greater Sturgis Area Foundation. He says the generous gift of $1,240,587.00 will result in more opportunities.

“The foundation was set up as a vehicle for giving.  The organization has gifted almost $400,000 since its inception in 1988 to the greater Sturgis area and we have been able to give because of generosity from a number of individuals,” he shares, adding,   "Because of this generous donation from Vern Jones, it’s going to magnify what we are going to be able to give.  It’s going to create bigger opportunities for projects and allow this organization to focus on needs we haven’t been able to – to the extent that we would like.”

Pausing for thought, he says, “It is such a wonderful and exciting gift.”

Phone number: 605-347-4455
E-mail: info@kbhbradio.com
Address: 1612 Junction Avenue, Suite #1
Sturgis, SD 57785