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Giving to medicine and health at the University of Minnesota

Creating a family legacy through the gift of land

Cathleen and Daniel Aldrich

A couple gives real estate through a bequest to fund a scholarship for future rural doctors

Daniel F. Aldrich, a Wyoming-based expert in plant-insect interactions, had a successful career in agriculture. But it was a stint in the Peace Corps in the mid-1970s—not science—that changed his outlook on life.

While serving in the Peace Corps in the Terai region of southern Nepal, Aldrich became immersed in the native culture and taught local entrepreneurs about viable fish farming. At that time, the median income in that area was about $250 per year. In the Terai region, he encountered people who were hungry and dying. “It gives one a distinct perspective on what you need and want and what happiness is,” he says.

That perspective, as well as his Minnesota roots, influenced Aldrich’s philanthropy. Earlier this year, he and his wife, Cathleen Aldrich, made a gift of land in honor of his family to fund a scholarship supporting University of Minnesota medical students who are studying rural medicine.

Minnesota House of Representatives, 1926 campaign literature

Family ties to medicine

Aldrich’s father, Herrick J. Aldrich, M.D., was an enthusiastic alumnus of the University of Minnesota Medical School, Class of 1935. After serving in World War II, he worked as a rural physician in Minnesota and Wyoming, where he lived with his wife, Floris, Daniel Aldrich’s mother.

“Dad was a consistent fan of the University of Minnesota,” says Aldrich, adding that he has fond memories of attending Twins and Vikings games with his father when he was a teenager.

Aldrich’s older brother, Sgt. John Herrick Aldrich, also had ties to medicine. He served as a combat medic in the Vietnam War and was killed one year into his service.

And although he never met his grandparents, Daniel says that their professional accomplishments also inspired his philanthropy.

His grandfather, Frederick H. Aldrich, M.D., a World War I veteran, practiced medicine in Monticello and Belview, Minn., and served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for two terms. His grandmother, Emma L. Aldrich, M.D., also practiced medicine in rural Minnesota. He says that her achievements impressed him: “I think back about how difficult it would have been for a woman to go to medical school at the beginning of the 20th century.”

The gift of land

In recent years, Aldrich inherited 200 acres of farmland in southwestern Minnesota that had belonged to his grandfather. He says that it just seemed right to make a gift to honor his family.

Through a bequest in their will, he and Cathleen made the gift through the Minnesota Medical Foundation. Proceeds of the sale of that land will eventually be used to fund the Frederick H. and Emma L. Aldrich Scholarship Fund for medical students studying rural medicine.

“It was my grandfather’s land. It seemed appropriate,” says Aldrich, adding that creating this scholarship also fulfills his father’s wish to help others.

“The need for rural medicine is more critical now than ever,” says Aldrich. “My dad dedicated his life to medicine and fostered all forms of life. He wanted to make a grant for students interested in practicing in a diverse rural environment.”

Herrick Aldrich, M.D.

‘If you have enough, you share’

Aldrich says that he’s proud of his family, the legacy that this scholarship will leave, and the impact it will make on recipients’ lives.

Deciding to donate his land to support rural doctors of the future was simple, as was the bequest process, Aldrich says. “My brother and both my folks would be very pleased that this bequest was made to the Minnesota Medical Foundation. All of us felt it was important.

“I don’t have any needs there,” he says of the land. “We were taught to make a line between what we needed and what we wanted. That’s how we were raised: ‘If you have enough, you share.’”

To learn more about how to make a gift of property or other types of planned gifts, such as bequests, beneficiary designations, charitable gift annuities, lead trusts and remainder trusts, memorial and honorary gifts, endowed gifts, and donor advised funds, contact Jay Kautt at 612-626-0510 or

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