Community Giving

Elaine Adams

Elaine Adams

Fund Name:: Elaine Adams Donor Advised Fund
Fund Established: November 10, 2009
Community Foundation(s): Willmar Area
Award: 2015 WACF Marv Otto Award

A long-time teacher, Elaine Adams knew the importance of community and helping ignite leadership in future generations. She understood the power of philanthropy and answered the call to make a catalytic gift of $50,000 to seed the Willmar Women's Fund and leverage a match from the Otto Bremer Foundation. Elaine was the recipient of the Marv Otto Award for her generous contributions in the Willmar area.

Elaine desired to inspire philanthropy in others and took special delight in seeing local women step in to roles as philanthropists. Elaine was a generous supporter of Willmar High School, Ridgewater College, College of St. Scholastica and the Willmar Area Community Foundation.

Elaine grew up in Norway, Michigan and Iron Mountain, Michigan, graduating from Iron Mountain High School in 1932. She moved to Minnesota to attend the College of St. Scholastica, in Duluth, majoring in mathematics and graduating cum laude in 1936. Upon graduation, she returned to Michigan to teach elementary school for four years. She returned to Minnesota, settling in Willmar with her husband, Harry Raymond "Ray" Adams, who was an employee of the Great Northern Railroad. Ray died in 1968 in a railroad accident.

Elaine taught all levels of mathematics for more than 50 years, teaching in Kerkhoven and Clara City, but mostly in Willmar. She developed new courses, especially to teach basic math skills and earned a reputation as "everyone's favorite teacher, even if you didn't like math." She earned a master's degree in mathematics from St. Cloud State University and took additional classes towards her doctorate degree. She retired in 1979.

In 2001, she married Eldred "Al" Beckman and they spent summers in Minnesota and winters in Florida. They moved to Paynesville in 2006 and became involved in the community. Elaine passed away in January 2014 at the age of 98 and only then was the full measure of her generosity made clear. She had left estate gifts to more than 20 organizations and non-profits that she cared deeply about and left an indelible legacy that exceeds her lifetime. Because of her generosity, Elaine taught many the lesson about the power of one person making an enormous difference in the lives of many.