Fund Name: Ann and Alex Didier Family Fund
Fund Established: October 30, 2007
Community Foundation(s): Central Minnesota
As president of the First American National Bank in the 1970s, Alex Didier saw a trend that was a bit disturbing to him. When some long-time banking clients who were business owners passed away, their wealth was leaving the community with the second and third generations of the family.
Alex wanted to find a way to help these families consider charitable options within St. Cloud. It took awhile. After having discussions with leaders of several foundations and watching the development of the North Dakota Community Foundation in the ‘70s and early ‘80s, Didier set out to develop a community foundation in St. Cloud. He made several attempts, but it wasn’t until 1984 that the idea for a community foundation took hold.
The Central Minnesota Community Foundation officially set up shop in November 1985 in downtown St. Cloud. Former Mayor Ed Henry served as the interim director until Sam Newman was hired. A $100,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation got CMCF off the ground. Newman served in the lead role of the Foundation for 10 years until poor health caused him to resign. Steve Joul was then hired as president in 1995.
For the first decade or so, Didier spent a lot of time with the organization.
“It absolutely had to be done. We needed to raise money,” he said. “I wanted a foundation that would become a key, responsible organization and offer a way for people to leave their money into perpetuity for community organizations."
Alex, who died in May 2010, was proud of the growth of the Foundation in the years he was alive. "The money is being used on great programs, scholarships, the Women’s Fund and more. It’s really matured."
Brian Myres, chair of the CMCF Board of Directors in 2010, reflected in Alex's impact.“Some people go through life waiting for others to do things and for others to lead. Alex Didier was not one of those people.” “I often remember him telling me about another icon in Central Minnesota, Bill Clemens of Bankers Systems, who above his steering wheel always had a note that said ‘do it.'’
Alex was a visionary and an idea guy,” Brian said. “Those who worked with or lived with him all know he had a ton of ideas, and ‘let’s do it’ was a big part of his vocabulary. In fact, two weeks before he passed away, we had a great discussion about all the ideas that were coming to fruition at the Central Minnesota Community Foundation. As I left that day, I knew I probably would not see him again, but I knew I would be seeing his ideas come to life over the rest of my lifetime.”
Alex believed the CMCF would “become the major charitable institution in Central Minnesota...individuals and professionals from all walks of life will see it as a way to make charitable gifts into perpetuity. And they can be confident that the funds will be administered in a sound, professional manner at all times.”
A life well lived is one where this world is a better place when we leave it, and Alex Didier left the world having made significant contributions that will serve our area for generations to come.
In his words, “When it’s all said and done, your time, your money—all that will be gone. But if you handle things right, you will have left your mark. And that’s what’s lasting.”