Elmer O. Dalke, a longtime McPherson resident who died in 2002, is donating $2.6 million through his charitable foundation to expand career-focused learning opportunities for McPherson students Middle School. The donation is a major contribution to McPherson College Build a community campaign, which received more than $25 million in donations and pledges, making it the largest campaign in school history.
The Elmer Dalke Center for Career and Experiential Learning will be an important part of the future Campus Commons building slated for construction on the McPherson College campus. Additionally, the Dalke Endowment for Professional and Experiential Learning will be created to ensure students are career-ready when they graduate.
“Elmer’s legacy has helped hundreds of students find and follow their path through college and the job market. This gift will permanently enhance the career-focused student experience at McPherson College,” said McPherson College President Michael Schneider.
Dalke had a tremendous impact on the students at McPherson College who worked alongside him. He mentored many McPherson College students employed at McPherson Dillons Grocery, where he served as store manager for 40 years. It not only provided part-time jobs for students to fund their tuition, but it also helped them develop important job skills they could use after graduation. He was a devoted member of the First Baptist Church where he taught Sunday school and led Bible study groups. He was also a member of the Baptist Church Foundation as a deacon and trustee.
“Elmer was a gentle giant, a kind and caring man. He worked in the food and produce industry managing the McPherson Dillons store for many years. His family suffered a tragedy with the loss of a son in 1967 when his Air Force plane crashed, but he was undeterred. Instead, he continued to work hard and focused on helping others,” said said Rodger Swanson, trustee of the Dalke Charitable Foundation “Elmer did not seek to attract attention, and if he were with us today, he would humbly but preferably quietly accept the accolades for his gift personal and charitable to the foundation. He was always a gentleman and I had the honor of representing him with his longtime friends and lawyers, Bob Wise and Randee Koger.
Over the years, the Dalke Charitable Foundation has provided thousands of dollars to support McPherson College students on their journey to careers and higher education. These donations have fueled a transformation at McPherson College by funding numerous internship programs in the fields of service learning and entrepreneurship, as well as career preparation activities at various businesses and organizations in the McPherson area. . Programs supported by Dalke funding have encouraged higher graduation rates and placement rates at nation-leading McPherson College.