Community Giving

George and Shirley Torrey

George Shirley Torrey

Fund Name:: George and Shirley Torrey Advised Fund, David Torrey Memorial Scholarship Fund
Fund Established: December 24, 2002 September 7, 1993
Community Foundation(s): Central Minnesota
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Before George Torrey started his job at Herberger’s in St. Cloud in 1972, he bought a house. He was committed to make the community home. The house was just the beginning.

“This is home, and it’s our responsibility to make it the best place it can be to raise a family and make a living,” said George, who joined the Central Minnesota Community Foundation board in 1985 and became chairman in 1994.

Over the years, George and his wife Shirley have given back in big ways to the place they call home. The couple have become pillars in the St. Cloud area and have been consistently looked to for leadership and support of local projects.

It was the sale of Herberger’s and the pay-out George received as an executive and committed investor in the company and Employee Stock Ownership Plan that provided a significant opportunity for the Torreys to support their community in ways they never imagined.

The Torrey name now may adorn scoreboards, buildings and capital campaign bricks throughout the St. Cloud community, but it is the couple’s gifts to Clara’s House, a CentraCare facility that treats adolescents with mental health issues, that have been some of the most meaningful.

“It’s been very important to us because of the mission to help adolescents in this community,” George said. “It’s a unique facility for this region.”

George may be known more in Central Minnesota because of his visible leadership at Herberger’s and in causes, but Shirley’s commitment is strong.

“She’s equally passionate about giving, if not more,” George said.

A former nurse, Shirley wanted to support Minnesota students applying to a Minnesota nursing school. She learned that very few scholarships were available to students in their junior year of college, when most begin applying for a nursing program.

That led the Torreys established a nursing scholarship that is available after two years of post-secondary education to support and reflect the reality of when students are deciding on a nursing career.

The Torreys also created four $1,000 annual scholarships awarded to St. Cloud Technical High School students in honor of their son, David, who passed away at age 21. The David Torrey Memorial Scholarship Fund is not a typical scholarship: The funds are awarded to boys whose grades are not high enough for most traditional scholarships.

Dave graduated from St. Cloud Technical High School in 1991. He was an active young man who was involved in a variety of sports including hockey and golf and he enjoyed spending time with his many friends. In 1991, Dave started college at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. He also took one year of classes at Willmar Junior College in Willmar.

“I want to give those students – the ones who don’t think they can go to college – an extra push,” explained George. “And it’s only for boys because I have a real concern that young men aren’t as aggressive in furthering their education as the girls are.”

The Torreys have created many other scholarships and support many other charitable organizations across the community – so many, in fact, that giving has nearly become a full-time job. But they wouldn’t have it any other way.

While the couple’s giving has become more sophisticated and built around a tax schedule over the years, they do not follow a special formula. They give where they see a need and chronicle their giving on index cards kept well organized in a recipe box.

“My father once said, ‘You can’t out-give God,’” Shirley said. “That has stuck with me.”

The Torreys have even ensured a legacy of support for their favorite causes by naming the Central Minnesota Community Foundation in their estate plans.

“They say that people who give generously are happier and live longer,” said George. “So I’m shooting for 100!”