St. Mary's gets gift of more than $5 million

A deceased couple left a surprise gift of more than $5 million to St. Mary's University of Minnesota — the largest estate gift the school has ever received, officials said.

The money donated by Lucille G. and Robert J. Stiever, a St. Mary's 1949 alumnus, was recently invested, and proceeds will go toward scholarships for undergraduate students with an economic need on the school's Winona campus. Robert Stiever died in 2018, Lucille a year later.

The private liberal arts college provides scholarships to almost all of its students — many in the $20,000 range — to help make sure an education there is accessible, said Ben Murray, executive vice president. He believes the Stievers' gift will help between 10 and 15 students a year.

"It's very significant for our university to receive a gift like this," Murray said.

The couple, he said, were dedicated to education. "It's kind of a beautiful story. There's part of me that would have loved to be able to thank the couple in person."

Robert Stiever was an economist and accountant for the USDA Commodity Credit Corp. and the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. Lucille Stiever worked as an office and property manager at the Ramsey County Public Library, according to the school. The couple lived in St. Paul and on Lucille's family farm in Caledonia.

Pam Louwagie


Mayor steps down after 22 years

Roseau bid farewell to the only mayor it's known in the 21st century as Jeff Pelowski stepped down after 22 years in office. Pelowski, first elected in 1998, was honored by the City Council. At a January meeting, council members presented Pelowski with a plaque and praised his actions while in office, especially the leadership he provided during a major 2002 flood and its aftermath. Members cited "his leadership skills … the countless hours, miles, struggles endured, and the many positive changes he spearheaded for the City of Roseau."

On June 11, 2002, the Roseau River surged 15 feet in a single day after more than 20 inches of rain soaked the surrounding area. The city was devastated, with 90% of the residents and businesses affected. The city hall, library and police department building were destroyed.

In the years after, the city built a permanent diversion structure to channel future floodwaters around the city. Pelowski was instrumental in guiding the city through the crisis and its aftermath.

At the same meeting, Dan Fabian was sworn in as the new mayor.