Community Foundation(s): Brainerd Lakes Area
Mildred ”Millie” Gjertson was an environmentalist and traveler, who in her lifetime visited all 50 states, all while keeping journals and keepsakes from her many trips. However, it is what Millie has given and left behind that will be her biggest legacy.
Millie passed away earlier this year, but before she did, she made two substantial gifts to the City of Nisswa for the Nisswa Lake Park, for the creation of trails and a pavilion. Millie loved nature and the outdoors, and wanted others to enjoy it as well. Matthew Hill, Park Director for Nisswa stated, “It is because of Millie that Nisswa Lake Park and Recreation Area has bloomed. Her initial donation allowed us to put in the trails and provide access to the Gull Lake Chain of Lakes. She was so pleased with that work that she made a second donation to build a picnic pavilion. Since her gifts, we have received additional donations of benches, a flagpole, and docks that people can dock their boats and visit Nisswa. We are so thankful for Millie’s involvement in Nisswa Lake Park!”
After Millie passed, she left significant monetary gifts to First Congregational UCC, The (Brainerd) Center, Northland Arboretum, the Brainerd Public Library, and provisions for flower gardens at Woodland Good Samaritan. Millie also created a scholarship fund at Bemidji State University and support for the Trust for Public Land and Nature Conservancy.
Vicki Foss, Northland Arboretum shares, “The legacy that Millie Gjertson left the Northland Arboretum is a wonderful and beautiful gift allowing us to move forward with several education, recreation, and conservation projects. Her love of gardening and the outdoors will be honored with expansion of gardens, orchards, and educational projects that help youth and families enjoy the great outdoors together.”
Jennifer Grams of Good Samaritan, Woodland, stated, “As a resident at Good Samaritan Society Woodland, Millie impacted those we serve in word and deed. Through Millie’s generous gift, her legacy will live on through our community garden.”
John M. Mattson, Chairperson, Brainerd Public Library Board stated, “The Brainerd Public Library is very honored that Millie Gjertson chose for as one of the recipients of her most gracious gifts. Although we haven't made any final decisions yet on how to best utilize her contribution, we will do so in a manner which properly recognizes her lifelong love of nature and of learning."
DeAnn Berry of The Center shared this, “Millie Gjertson was an artist. She made recycled greeting cards and crocheted doilies, each one a work of art, and are sold in our Gift Shop. Just as Millie used tools and thread or paper to visualize beauty; she and her husband, Scut, had a vision for the future of The Center. The memorial to our Legacy Fund supports our long term viability.”
The Center has an Agency Fund with the Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation’s (BLACF). BLACF helps generous people like Millie, change lives and communities. Karl Samp, executive director of BLACF, said: "There are so many charities that have benefited from Millie’s generosity. The Brainerd Lakes Area is a better place because of her philanthropic giving.”