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Bob and Violet (Krell) Jacob of Winnipeg have built their lives around the biblical teaching: “Your first tenth is the Lord’s.” this is a reference to the act of “tithing” or giving the first 10 per cent of what you earn to do god’s work.
Through the years, this retired pastor and his wife, a former public health nurse, have made it their mission to support charities locally and around the world, including the Red Cross, the Cancer society, Salvation Army, Plan Canada, schools in Central America and children’s aid in India, the Bible Society, Lutheran World Relief, and many more. As passionate Luther alumni, the Jacobs are also generous Luther College donors and believe that giving back to others helps keep them grounded in their faith.
“We really are the fortunate ones,” begins Violet (SS’54, HSU’55). “We see a lot of need and it’s only natural to want to help. Giving reminds us that everything we have is a gift from god and we are grateful.”
Violet recalls that as a young couple starting out in the early 1960’s, there often wasn’t quite enough money to go around, but they never wavered from their priorities. “Sometimes we had to borrow from the Lord's treasury Box (our family tithing box) to supply our needs. When pay day came again, we always put that money back in,” she offers. “We just learned to make do because we never claimed that first one tenth as our own. That money came off first.”
It’s a selfless philosophy that has inspired a legacy of giving for the Krell family. When Violet’s brother William Krell (SS’51), passed away in 2016, he left a gift in his will to establish a new scholarship at Luther. “He absolutely loved his Luther years which, he said, changed his purpose and his outlook on life. It meant so much for him to go on to the University of Saskatchewan, because of Luther.”
That sense of pride and service to others was nurtured in part from the family’s Lutheran faith, but also because of the siblings’ strong foundation received at Luther College. Violet and her older sisters, Lily (Krell) Paterson (HS’47, HSU’50), Leah (Krell) Diemert (HSU’50), Sophie (Krell) Knoch (HSU’50) and Marie (Krell) Christiansen (HS’52), as well as their brother William (Bill) all attended Luther College and lived in the school dorms. In 1949-50, five siblings stayed in the dorms the same year, setting a record for Luther. Providing the means for that education did not come easy for this Stoughton farm family, and it meant selling grain, cattle, eggs, and cream just to afford the tuition and housing.
In 1999, the Krell siblings established a scholarship in honour of their late parents, Frederick and Magdalena. “We wanted to do something special that acknowledged their tremendous effort to ensure that we got a good education and to assist others to attend Luther. My mom always told us to get a good education because nobody could take that away from us.”
Violet says her Luther teachers displayed an exemplary level of dedication. “I remember Mr. Liefeld helped me register for grade 12. When I completed my first year of university and was registering for the degree nursing program at the U of S, I discovered that I needed grade 12 physics, but I didn’t have it,” she recalls. “He said, ‘Why didn't you take physics?’ and I bravely told him: ‘Mr. Liefeld, you were the one who registered me.’ I think he was shocked at the oversight. So, he arranged for me to come to his house at 8:00 a.m. every morning from the end of April until June for a condensed course in physics. Now that’s dedication.”
Violet's husband Bob (HSU’56) also attended Luther for first year university. He was the first in his family of six to finish high school and had the support of his parents, tony and Karoline Jacob, to attend Luther. He went to U of S and Lutheran theological seminary, earning a Masters of divinity degree. Ironically, however, the two never met at Luther. “I went to the Luther College bookstore to buy some used books and what do you know, I bought a few books belonging to Violet Krell,” laughs Bob. “I didn’t know her at the time because she had already left Luther for university in Saskatoon. When I was at seminary, Violet and I met at a Lutheran Students Association meeting. As Violet recalls: “He asked me out for coffee and that was the beginning of it all.”
The couple married and built a life for themselves in Winnipeg, which has included more than five decades of pastoral service to the church in three congregations. When the couple started having their family of six children, Violet took time out from her nursing career to manage the home front, and then returned to nursing 18 years later. Their eldest daughter Lori (Jacob) Brooks also attended Luther for grade 11 and 12 in 1978-1980.
While the couple is now retired, their charitable work is ongoing, and so is their generosity. They together visited over 2,000 homes to establish a new Mission Congregation and a church building in Birds hill, a bedroom community near Winnipeg. They also have 11 grandchildren, all pursuing educations and careers. Bob adds, “We keep busy on so many fronts, including being active as alumni of Luther College. It’s an amazing educational organization that ensures the excellent standard of education continues.”
To ensure those high standards remain, the Jacobs say they plan to continue their Luther philanthropy for the rest of their lives, and even after they’re gone. “We give because we’re reminded that we are not only servants to God, but to all people,” says Bob. “Giving is a natural extension of that service to others.”