Alan Malmgren was “a bit of a mystery” says his niece, Carol Bohn.
She learned more about him during the last few years of his life, after his wife Nettie passed away in 2009. Ms. Bohn began driving her uncle to doctors’ appointments and visiting with him over coffee; those times together have given her some insight into the generous gifts he left in his will, including to The Winnipeg Foundation.
“He was a very private person,” she says of the lifelong Winnipegger who grew up in Elmwood and graduated from the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Engineering in 1949.
Mr. Malmgren worked with his brothers at Malmgren Manufacturing, the farm machinery business their father started after emigrating from Sweden, via Minneapolis.
Alan Malmgren married Nettie in 1955 and together they traveled, cross-country skied and hosted family gatherings.
“He was kind of a quiet man, a little bit unassuming. No boastfulness, didn’t say too much more than he needed to,” says Ms. Bohn. But that didn’t stop him from demonstrating what was important to him: family and friends, being active, learning and exploring the world.
“He was also very compassionate,” says Bohn, adding that even during the last months of his life, with leukemia making him weaker, he was always caring, inquisitive and supportive to those around him.
Though he and Nettie had no children of their own, they took a keen interest in their 13 nieces and nephews. Mr. Malmgren was also known as a mentor to neighbourhood children and kept track of their successes as they grew up.
“Always, the two of them – Nettie and Alan – were so interested in other people. And I think that’s what made them tick,” says Ms. Bohn. “Even though he was quiet and modest, he took great joy in getting to know people and what they’re about.”
Mr. Malmgren was also incredibly disciplined, remembers Ms. Bohn. He swam daily at the YMCA – earning trophies for the miles he racked up each year in the pool.
He was a regular at Rossmere Golf Club and prided himself on being the first to tee off in the morning.
As a teenager he once rode his bike from his family’s home on Union Avenue in Winnipeg to Loni Beach in Gimli – a distance of 90 kilometres.
He was also diligent about his finances and found gratification in saving money and watching it grow.
“He was a very frugal person,” says Ms. Bohn. “I think he was very focused. He wanted a good cushion in his life and he wanted to go on some big trips.”
The Malmgrens traveled to the UK, Asia and Australia, and made twice-yearly visits to Hawaii, where they were part of a large social group that brought them much joy.
While the couple loved to travel, they were also fond of their home.
“I think the city meant a lot to him. He really liked Winnipeg,” says Bohn.
In the final years of his life, Mr. Malmgren drew up his will with the help of a lawyer. His bequests included five Winnipeg charities. Gifts to the Health Science Centre, Children’s Hospital and St. Boniface Hospital reflected the value he placed on healthcare and his gratitude for the care Nettie received before her passing. He also provided for his alma mater, the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Engineering.
But his gift to The Winnipeg Foundation came as a surprise to Ms. Bohn, one of the executors of his estate. She doesn’t remember her uncle talking about the organization, but once she learned more about the Foundation’s variety of grants programs, she saw that it was a good fit for her uncle.
“I can really see why he would donate here,” she says. Always careful with decisions and a voracious reader, Ms. Bohn says her uncle likely researched the Foundation extensively. The Alan Malmgren Memorial Fund is a Community Building Fund that supports the full range of the Foundation’s granting activity.
“He obviously valued this organization very much,” she says.
It comes as no surprise to Ms. Bohn that her uncle made charitable bequests in his will.
“He was a very caring, generous person with a good sense of humour who loved people,” she says. “He was very appreciative of everything in his life. I really got that vibe from him, very positive. Very happy with what he had. Happy with his life. Blessed that he had all these nieces and nephews and, I think, loved Winnipeg.”
If you have named The Winnipeg Foundation as a beneficiary of your will or estate, or are considering doing so, we invite you to join our Legacy Circle. For more information, please contact Leslie Weir, Director of Family Philanthropy, at 204.944.9474 ext. 246 (toll-Free 1.877.974.3631) or firstname.lastname@example.org