LINCOLN – Lincoln College and its Lincoln Heritage Museum will benefit from a half-million-dollar gift from the estate of former college trustee Waldo Bertoni and his wife, Rosalie.
Half of the gift was designated for the museum; the remainder is unrestricted.
"This is the kind of gift that's just extraordinary," said Debbie Ackerman, vice president for institutional advancement at the college.
Ackerman said the Bertonis were great supporters of the museum, “but they also recognized, particularly with Waldo being on the board, how important having flexibility is to a small, private institution.”
The new museum opened in April, occupying 9,000 square feet of the Lincoln Center on the north edge of campus. More than half of the space is used for exhibits; the rest is used for offices and archival storage.
The former museum site had about 1,000 square feet of exhibit space.
“We wouldn't have the Lincoln Heritage Museum if not for the generosity of people in Logan County like the Bertonis,” college President John Blackburn said. “They cared deeply about young people and education and about our local history, and Lincoln College is honored to receive this gift.”
Rosalie Bertoni, a native of Chestnut who died in October 2013, served on the museum's soiree committee for several years.
Waldo Bertoni grew up in Mount Pulaski and attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He returned to Mount Pulaski with his wife in 2005 after a long career in the Air Force and defense industry.
“He has a great affinity for the college. It goes back to his brothers going here,” Blackburn said. “When they got back here, they fairly quickly got involved with the college.”
In addition to their involvement with the museum and the college — Waldo Bertoni was a trustee from 2008 until his death in 2011 – the couple was active with several organizations, including the Lincoln Elks Lodge, Mount Pulaski Rotary, American Legion and Historical Society.
“During a visit in 2013 with Rosalie, she talked about the value and importance of education and the population we serve at Lincoln College,” Ackerman said.
The next step will be for the administration to review its priorities and make recommendations to the board on “how best to impact our students and the institution” with the Bertonis' gift.