Philanthropist leaves $288K to Martin Luther High School

NORTHROP – Those who were acquainted with Melvin Logemann when he was alive knew a man who was generous and supportive of churches, schools and charities.

After his death on May 29, 2013, at the age of 94, he continued his legacy of giving by designating $288,000 from his estate to Martin Luther High School in Northrop.

“Melvin was very blessed, but he was also a blessing to the community,” said Marge Thiesse, director of development at Martin Luther. “And what was so great was that his kids supported his generosity.”

“Dad had quite a few charities he supported, and Martin Luther was maybe his favorite,” said Logemann’s son, Dean, of Colorado Springs, Colo. He echoed Thiesse’s comments, noting the family endorsed the gift to Martin Luther and was looking forward to seeing the results from the bequest.

When the board of directors and school administration learned of the gift, their initial reaction was to utilize the funds in basic necessities, Thiesse said. The board then took their “wish list” to the Logemann family.

“The family wasn’t real excited about it,” Thiesse said. “They wanted us to do something special, just like Melvin was.”

She related a story about Melvin’s participation in a Martin Luther fund-raising auction a couple of years ago: “He ran a skydiving bid up to $800.”

Dean Logemann chuckled when he was reminded of the story. He recalled his father saying, “I wish I would have bid higher.” He also said his father might have participated in the skydiving activity.

Martin Luther’s board agreed that this special gift from this special man should be utilized for special things.

According to Paul Steinhaus, school principal, the board set up a subcommittee “to look into all the dreams” for the school.

“They tried to determine how to be the best stewards of the gift,” he said.

The committee determined some dollar amounts for the wanted and needed items and separated the list into three areas.

As a result, Melvin Logemann was instrumental in the establishment of the Martin Luther student tuition aid endowment fund, which bears his name. This fund is one of the three areas to benefit from his gift.

The second area was for necessities in the operation of the school and the upkeep of the 30-year-old building and grounds.

The third category, however, will be the most visible evidence of Melvin’s gift: the complete makeover of the gymnasium.

Steinhaus said the school’s gym floor has a less than stellar reputation.

“It’s rubberized paint on concrete,” he said. “It’s not an athlete-friendly floor. It’s not fun to play on.”

Thiesse said plans are to have the gym floor installed by graduation. While the class of 2014 won’t have the opportunity to play basketball on the new gym floor, they will be the first class to walk across it to receive their diplomas.

In addition to the new wood gym floor, the bleachers will be retrofitted, and there will be a new sound system and upgraded basketball hoops as part of the facelift.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Steinhaus said. “This gift has opened up some doors.”

There will be opportunities for alumni to leave their mark on the existing gym floor. Plans are under way for an autograph party, during which alumni can sign sections of this floor to say farewell – fondly or otherwise – to this part of Martin Luther history.