From a young age, John Skogmo had an affinity for finance. Family members recall him reading financial magazines at age 9.
As a teenager, he ran a concession stand in Fergus Falls, Minn., that sold popcorn, cotton candy and caramel apples. He invested the profits in shares of a local bank.
Skogmo, 67, of Minneapolis, died from bladder cancer on April 4, just a few months before his scheduled retirement after 43 years with Wells Fargo and predecessor banks.
He’s remembered not just by colleagues in the wealth management division at Wells Fargo, but also at prominent nonprofits ranging from Macalester College in St. Paul to Westminster Presbyterian Church in Minneapolis.
“He challenged us to dream big, and yet kept our financial feet on the ground, which is just a tremendous gift,” said Kelley Lindquist, the president of Artspace, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit real estate developer where Skogmo served as a board member for about 14 years.
Artspace owns affordable housing projects across the country where artists can live and work. Skogmo was board chair in 2011, when the group opened the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts in Minneapolis.
“He did not have to be gruff or commanding in order to get everyone’s respect …” Lindquist said. “He always maintained balance, and listened to everyone’s input.”
After growing up in Fergus Falls, Skogmo earned his undergraduate degree in 1969 from Macalester, where he studied political science. He earned a degree in 1972 from the University of Minnesota Law School, and took a job in the small legal department at Northwestern National Bank, which eventually became Wells Fargo.
Skogmo spent his entire professional career in a building at the corner of S. 7th Street and Marquette Avenue in downtown Minneapolis, said Tom Morin, Skogmo’s partner of 32 years and husband of one year.
Skogmo started in the legal department, but moved to jobs in different parts of the bank before landing in what used to be called the trust department.
“He truly was passionate about managing money,” Morin said. “He saw great good in it, and a need.”
Skogmo helped individuals and families with complex or taxable estates who were looking to develop a financial strategy, said Mike Maeser, regional managing director with Wells Fargo Wealth Management.
The work can put a financial adviser in the middle of complex multigenerational issues, said Jeff Thomas, a colleague at the bank for more than 20 years.
“What the clients have told me is that they considered him part of their family,” Thomas said.
Skogmo served on the Macalester board of trustees from 1977 to 1983. He helped set the college on steady financial footing, said the Rev. Timothy Hart-Andersen, senior minister at Westminster Presbyterian Church and currently a Macalester trustee.
Hart-Andersen credited Skogmo with decades of service to the church in roles ranging from deacon and trustee to elder and treasurer. Skogmo chaired a church renovation project about seven years ago that created an outdoor courtyard, and he helped the church increase its endowment.
“His lasting contribution at Westminster will be the financial health, stability and careful stewardship of the church’s resources,” Hart-Andersen said. “That will benefit multiple generations to come.”
A memorial service is scheduled for 3 p.m. May 1 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1200 Marquette Av., Minneapolis. A reception will follow at the Minneapolis Club.