A $1 million gift that came to Beloit College late last year reveals a love story that begins and ends with economics.
First there were the realities of the Great Depression, which required June Bjorklund’40 to attend college close to her Rockford, Ill., home. A scholarship and a commuter bus shuttle allowed her to save money by living at home and made her studies at Beloit possible. She later wrote how fortunate she felt that Beloit College was within reach.
At Beloit, she discovered her love of economics, the discipline that formed the foundation of a career she pursued to the heights of New York state government. A pioneer among professional women in government, she became the highest ranking female staff member in the New York state legislature and directed the state’s governmental research office.
But Beloit loomed large in her life for another reason that trumped her passion for economics—though it was still related to it.
It’s where she first met Edgar Martin, a professor of economics at Beloit from 1939-42. A stellar Beloit student, June went on to graduate school, later rekindling a friendship with Edgar that turned into a courtship. They married after many years of written correspondence.
When June Martin passed away last year, she left Beloit College a $1 million unrestricted bequest in recognition of the College’s important place in her life. Fittingly, it will support a key program in Beloit’s economics department.
“The College worked with the executor of June’s will, finding a way to honor what she cared about and connecting the Martins’ lives back to Beloit,” says Susan Cleverdon, executive director of gift planning.
That connection comes through the Miller Upton Programs, a multifaceted set of programs centered in the economics department and named for Beloit’s sixth president. The Martin gift will become part of the endowment that makes these programs possible and raises the bar on the study of the big questions in economics. The high-profile keynote address given by the Upton Scholar each year now carries the Martins’ names.
In recognition of June Martin’s longtime support of class giving, the executor of June’s will set aside an additional $100,000 toward a Beloit Fund matching gift challenge. The gift is a kind of love note to her class on what would have been her 70th reunion this year.