Don and Marge Tarr’s lasting contribution to Oles and community
St. Olaf College recently received a generous bequest from the estate of Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Donald Tarr and Marjorie Tarr. Their gift was made through Northfield Shares, a community foundation serving Northfield. Added to the college’s endowment, it will provide sustaining support for financial aid, academics, and other parts of the college’s operations.
“Don and Marge gave generously of themselves to St. Olaf and Northfield,” says President David R Anderson ’74. “Don taught here for 31 years, and Marge likewise invested her time heavily in supporting others. Both created initiatives in Northfield and beyond that continue on today. I’m humbled and grateful they made this lasting gift to the college.”
Don taught inorganic and physical chemistry, kinetics and mechanisms of coordination, and compound reactions over his tenure at St. Olaf. Marge worked at home and supported registration for the Chemistry Department for several years. She also worked extensively in the community. They generously supported the college over several years, including the building of Regents Hall of Natural and Mathematical Sciences; the physical chemistry lab in Regents 392 carries their names.
Don and Marge gave generously of themselves to St. Olaf and Northfield. … Both created initiatives in our town and beyond that continue on today. I’m humbled and grateful they made this lasting gift to the college.President David R. Anderson ’74
Professor and Chemistry Department Chair Doug Beussman ’92 was one of many Oles who learned from Don as a student.
“Don was a very calming, caring, and patient professor,” says Beussman. “Even when he had to explain something two to three times, he was always happy to help his students understand the concept. He also always seemed to have a smile on his face.”
Don retired in 1996 and engaged more deeply in community work. He died a decade later in 2006, and Marge died just last fall. Driven by their passion to help and support others, their work continues to touch the lives of many.
The Tarrs’ engagement in the Northfield community advanced key support across affordable housing and health care, early literacy, social service, and local arts organizations. This includes through the Asian Rural Institute, a training program the Tarrs supported. Founded by Don’s college roommate, the program brings together grassroots rural leaders from across the world to Japan to build knowledge in sustainable agriculture, leadership development, and community building. Oles have worked with the program for more than 30 years since.
They also co-founded the Northfield Area Foundation, which became Northfield Shares. Its earliest grants provided scholarship funds for Northfield High School graduates. The community foundation enables donors to collectively build and direct support to Northfield nonprofits. The Tarrs’ estate gift is supporting four organizations, including St. Olaf. More about their history, their gift, and the causes they supported can be found at Northfield Shares.