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“Giving gives you more back than you give out”

A 50-year legacy of giving – and a lifelong love of community

What has kept Ed ’71 and Ann Sturzl ’72 connected with and contributing to St. Norbert College for more than five decades? Here, Ed reflects on a lifetime of giving back through time, talent and treasure – a tribute to his small-town roots.

A foundation for philanthropy
I came from Laona, Wis., where my dad was a banker for 50 years. That’s probably where the story begins. My father was involved with every kind of activity you could imagine, but most of all he was involved with anything to help the community – to help it to grow, to help it be successful. The big event was the community soup. The Lions Club provided the meat, everybody else brought the vegetables to throw in a pot and then they had a community feed at the end of the day. My father was the accountant for that affair. He also did the town turkey shoot, Little League, Boy Scouts … he was a community activist, trying to make it a better place.

One hundred miles away …
I arrived on campus in 1967 with a lamp and a suitcase. At that time, my three roommates in McCormick Hall were all from Chicago, and they complained about how “small” the school was, even though it was twice the size of my hometown! They had one feeling about campus; I had another.

I grew up here and had great experiences. I didn’t know anybody at first, but now I have lifelong friends. I met my love here, and that worked out extremely well; we’re still together, happily married 49 years later. I played football for four years and was a member of a fraternity; this August, 45 of us are meeting, and we’re still all good friends. My parents came to absolutely every activity we ever had on campus, and the campus became part of our life.

A little impact here makes a big difference everywhere
The mission of the college is to impact people for life. We’re taught to love; the big story in life is love. If you love others, it’s a better place. And if we’re going to love others, share with them as best you can … and the best share is really time and treasure (but mostly time).

Since graduation, we started to give a little bit to the St. Norbert community in time and treasure. In 1995, Bill Manion ’73 asked me to join the board of trustees, and I’ve been a trustee now for 26 years. I had two daughters go here, seeing them both grow up on campus. We’re also back occasionally for weddings with friends, or other activities.

But what’s most important is really why we have a passion for something like the Sturzl Center for Community Service & Learning. Ann’s father was much the same kind of person as my dad; at Sargento Foods, his company motto was basically “hire good people and treat them like family.” And so family and friends became the focal point of our life. It also became sort of the motto “communio” here at St. Norbert; we’re part of this St. Norbert family when we’re here.

Finding your passion
Many of our family helped contribute to and start the Sturzl Center. Unbeknownst to me they put our name on it, so that was a wonderful gift from them to us. I’m on campus a fair amount, and Ann and I come up every year for the Sturzl Center presentation of Celebrating Service. It isn’t the ice cream that gets us there; it’s the students and their involvement in their community.

The leadership in the Sturzl Center has been phenomenal, reaching out through SNC faculty and staff to get the maximum out of the dollars spent and out of the students. Just to see the number of students involved, how much they’re involved and how passionate they are about whatever cause: teaching kids in school and at the YMCA, working with Habitat for Humanity to build a home, passing out potatoes at the local pantries, even helping fellow students move into the dorms … it’s all to make a difference in the world. It just impacts them positively. They get something out of it, and then they follow it up in the future with their own free choice of what’s important to them.

Those are the rewards that are best. Suddenly they want to have a career in that area; they see an opportunity. Or they get an internship to help in the community, and it serves everybody well, including the students. But they learn from that experience that they are difference-makers. And with that difference we can change the world – one person at a time, if we have to. You feel like you’ve made a positive impact on a small spot of the world. You can do nothing but feel good. And when you feel good, life is good.

Coming back around
The Sturzl Center, we feel, has a great deal more to give, and with more dollars we can make that happen. Hopefully it will continue on campus to teach students, help professors teach service through their classes, and serve the community as a whole.

My goal is to encourage people. With more “treasure,” we can provide more positive experiences for students. They’re why we’re here; not our own self-satisfaction. We’re here to help students grow in their ability to do a lot of things, think on their feet and make a difference. But give to the students so they can make the most of their world. We’ve had our opportunity; as we get older, we hope the little bit we give can help young people find their way – and it is a good way – to help others.