Generous Sioux Falls Couple Remembers Augustana in Estate

Lyle and Othella ChristensenAugustana College has received $872,000 from the estate of Lyle G. and Othella B. Christensen. The gift will be used to support Augustana’s general endowment, the Lyle G. and Othella B. Christensen Scholarship endowment, and the proposed expansion and renovation of the Gilbert Science Complex.

The longtime Sioux Falls couple is supporting many community organizations in their estate, with Augustana being one of the largest beneficiaries. Augustana president Rob Oliver said, “This gift will benefit students in so many different ways. We are grateful for the Christensen’s generosity and belief in the importance of our mission.“

Lyle became co-owner of Interstate Office Products in 1971 and served as president of the company until his retirement in 1982. Lyle and Othella were longtime members of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, and although they were not Augustana alumni, their church association made them feel Augustana was “their college.” They supported the College through the Augustana Fund and the Booster Club before becoming members of the Heritage Club by making a deferred gift. Lyle’s business partner, Gary Scott, a 1957 Augustana graduate, had planted a seed many years ago with Lyle about making a long-term impact in Lutheran higher education by remembering Augustana in their estate.

Lyle and Othella were married for 61 years before Lyle’s death in March 2002. Othella passed away in May of this year. Lyle served in the U.S. Air Force from 1942-1946 and was discharged as a 1st Lieutenant. He was a member of the Elks Lodge, American Legion and Sons of Norway, and enjoyed the outdoors, traveling, golfing, hunting and fishing. Othella was a member and volunteer of the Sioux Falls American Legion Auxiliary and the Sioux Valley Hospital Auxiliary. Othella loved to travel and sing with the Legion Chorus. As a young woman, she also played softball in the Renner Women’s League.

President Oliver said the Christensens were role models of quiet generosity. “I think they would be quite embarrassed to be recognized publicly for their support of the community. They liked to make a difference behind the scenes. And what a difference they have made.”