Whether it’s feeding the hungry, building a home, opening a museum or funding an education for a student, Dale and his late-wife Pat Larson always had one mission in mind—to help others.
Dale Larson, chairman of the board at Larson Manufacturing in Brookings, has worked alongside his wife during the last three decades to champion some of the state’s greatest philanthropic movements. They first partnered with South Dakota Community Foundation (SDCF) in 1987 when Dale served on the SDCF Board of Directors.
Larson Manufacturing soon became one of the largest contributors for SDCF’s original challenge grant program. “I knew then that South Dakota Community Foundation was a great tool for people and organizations across South Dakota to both trust in, and invest in,” Dale says. “They are efficient and experienced in handling restricted funds and unrestricted funds with good oversight on choosing grant recipients.”
The family founded the Larson Family Foundation in 1990. Led by Dale’s daughter Maree Larson, the family foundation grants awards in the areas of human service, economic development, health, education, and cultural enhancement to nonprofit charitable organizations in local communities. It has provided more than $4 million in scholarships during the last 27 years. “Our hope has always been to help people achieve a better quality of life,” Dale says. “It’s been an honor to watch the funding make a difference in communities across the state.”
The Larson family, and Larson Manufacturing, have supported numerous organizations in all parts of the state, including Habitat for Humanity, Teen Challenge of the Dakotas, Red Cloud Indian School, Feeding South Dakota, the Brookings Boys and Girls Club, and the Early Childhood Learning Center. They also founded the Children’s Museum of South Dakota.
“Charitable giving has been—and always will be—an integral part of our family and this company,” Dale says. “We hope to lead by example, encouraging others to give, whether it is time or resources.”
This year, the company gave a major boost to the United Way of Brooking’s $1.1 million goal by providing 25 percent of the need. Ninety percent of the company’s employees participated in the campaign. “It gives me great joy to see that our employees share our desire to give back to a community that has given us so much,” he says. “We promote giving back, but our employees take it a step further and go out of their way to share their resources, donate their time and purposefully give of their money.”
SDCF President Stephanie Judson says the Larson family has had a major influence on the philanthropic growth South Dakota has experienced during the Community Foundation’s 30 years. “The depth of generosity that has been demonstrated by the Larson family is incredible,” she says. “We are fortunate in our state to have a family that has their hearts so set on giving.”