Dalke Charitable Foundation Gifts $2.6 Million To McPherson College

Elmer O. Dalke

Elmer O. Dalke, a long-time McPherson resident who passed away in 2002, is gifting $2.6 million through his charitable foundation to expand career-focused learning opportunities for McPherson College students. The gift is a major contribution to the McPherson College Building Community campaign, which has received over $25 million in donations and commitments, making it the largest campaign in school history.

The Elmer Dalke Center for Career and Experiential Learning will be a prominent part of the future Campus Commons building planned for construction on the campus of McPherson College. Additionally, the Dalke Endowment for Career and Experiential Learning will be created to ensure students are career-ready when they graduate.

“Elmer’s legacy has supported hundreds of students finding and navigating their pathway through college and into the workforce. This gift will permanently enhance the career-oriented student experience at McPherson College,” said McPherson College President Michael Schneider.

Dalke had a tremendous impact on McPherson College students who worked alongside him. He was a mentor to many McPherson College students employed at the McPherson Dillons grocery store, where he served as the store manager for 40 years. He not only provided part-time jobs for students to fund their tuition, but he also helped them develop important career skills they could use after graduation. He was a dedicated member of the First Baptist Church where he was a Sunday school teacher and led Bible study groups. He was also a member of the Baptist Church Foundation serving as both a deacon and trustee.

“Elmer was a gentle giant of a man who was kind and considerate. He worked in the food and produce industry managing the McPherson Dillons store for many years. His family experienced tragedy with the loss of a son in 1967 when his Air Force jet crashed, but he didn’t let it discourage him. Instead, he continued to work hard and focused on offering a helping hand to others,” said Rodger Swanson, Dalke Charitable Foundation trustee. “Elmer didn’t seek attention, and if he was with us today, he would humbly but preferably without fanfare, accept the accolades for his personal and charitable foundation gifting. He was always a gentleman, and it was my honor to represent him along with his long-time friends and attorneys, Bob Wise and Randee Koger.”

Over the years, the Dalke Charitable Foundation has provided thousands of dollars to support McPherson College students on their pathway to careers and graduate school. These gifts have fueled a transformation at McPherson College by providing funding for numerous internship programs in the areas of service-learning and entrepreneurship, as well as career preparation activities at various businesses and organizations in the McPherson area. The programs supported by Dalke funding have encouraged increases in graduation rates and job placement rates at McPherson College that lead the nation.