Longtime Wilder Friends Use Planned Gift to Extend their Commitment to Community
Wilder donor and former board chair Ken Rothchild built his career in mortgage banking and real estate development during the tumultuous 1960s. In a decade known for civil rights, the anti-war movement and social change, Ken worked for and then bought the real estate business his grandfather founded in 1885. At the same time, Ken and his wife, Nina, were becoming deeply interested in social justice.
“I’d been very active in the anti-war movement during the Nixon years, and when you were involved with the anti-war movement you were really involved with the social issues of the day,” Ken says. Through the family business, Ken became involved with the Junior Chamber in Saint Paul, now called the Jaycees. He chaired the public affairs committee, which led him to promote open-occupancy, or non-discriminatory housing in Saint Paul.
Ken’s Business Knowledge and Social Values Come Together at Wilder
At Wilder, Ken found a place where both his real estate development expertise and his desire for social justice were valued. The Wilder Foundation – which formed in 1906 –had long been involved in housing issues and had begun to develop housing in Saint Paul. Ken says he was asked to join a Wilder board committee during the development of housing along Energy Park Drive. He joined the Wilder Board of Directors in the mid-1980s and served until 2000.
“My initial relationship with Wilder came out of my real estate background and the notion that I could be useful to the board,” Ken says. “Once I got into Wilder and saw what it was doing, I was in the midst of social endeavors, and happily so.”
They continue to value Wilder’s work in the community. “I appreciate the research work that’s done, and the survey of the homeless. That kind of information spreads far beyond Wilder itself because it’s useful for the whole community,” Nina says.
Ken and Nina Continue to Support the Wilder Mission with Donations and Planned Gift
Ken sold most of the family business in the late 1980s, and he and his family manage the property management portion of the business. Ken and Nina continue to support Wilder through the Wilder Annual Fund and a gift to Wilder’s direct housing assistance program, which provides small payments directly to participants’ landlords or mortgage lenders to help families remain stable and prevent homelessness.
To continue their legacy of support for Wilder, the Rothchilds also have named Wilder a beneficiary in their estate plan. “It’s very important to me that Wilder be able to continue to step up and take on issues that others either cannot or are not willing to take on,” Ken says.