May 2, 1995 in Idaho

Big Gift Makes Students’ Lives Easier When Jessie Molstead Died In January 1994, She Left 90 Percent Of Her Estate To Nic

By The Spokesman-Review

North Idaho College students are the main beneficiaries of an estate valued at more than $1.5 million.

When Jessie Molstead died on Jan. 11, 1994, she left 90 percent of her estate to NIC, specifically for scholarships.

It’s the single largest gift ever to the college, said Steve Schenk, dean of college relations.

The transfer of funds occurred last week.

The Molstead family “was very committed to education and (Jessie Molstead) had some indirect involvement with the college,” Schenk said.

Most of the estate is the Molstead’s 300-acre farm in the Wolf Lodge area.

The college is selling the farm in 40-acre parcels.

Another $350,000 is available now for the endowment and future scholarships.

“We have to do what the will stipulates, and that’s to create a scholarship endowment,” Schenk said.

The NIC Foundation already has an scholarship endowment fund with just over $1.1 million.

Last year, that endowment paid for 99 scholarships in various amounts.

The scholarship money comes from interest earned on the endowment, not the principal.

The inheritance would fund another 75 full scholarships, said Rayelle Anderson, assistant director of the foundation.

The method by which the future scholarships will be awarded has not been decided, Schenk said.

They will be given in Jessie Molstead’s name.

The Molstead family lived on their Wolf Lodge farm since the mid-1920s.

They were known as quiet, hard-working people whose farm was a center for community activities such as barn dances and dinners.

Jessie Molstead was a former teacher who outlived her three children and husband, Selmer Molstead. Their daughter, Joyce, attended NIC in the ‘50s after she survived a nearly fatal bout of polio.

The college “did come along at a real critical point in Joyce’s life,” Schenk said.

Joyce Molstead worked from 1956 to 1991 for the law firm of Elder, Cox and Mitchell. She died in 1991 and also left a gift for NIC in her will.

College officials were curious about the generosity of Jessie Molstead, so Schenk interviewed family and friends to learn more.

He said the best explanation for the generous donation came from former school administrator, Bob Leonard, who also is deceased.

Jessie and her daughter Joyce, Leonard said, “were the kind of people who were always trying to make somebody else’s life easier by giving them a chance to progress.”

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