Moorhead man pledges $1 million for new pool project in Parkers

By Anna Erickson, Wadena Pioneer Journal

Story reprinted with permission from the Wadena Pioneer Journal

Lloyd Paulson, of Moorhead, is offering up to $1 million for a new swimming pool in Parkers Prairie, a town he grew up in back in the 1930s.  Contributed photo from Wadena Pioneer Journal

Lloyd Paulson, of Moorhead, is offering up to $1 million for a new swimming pool in Parkers Prairie, a town he grew up in back in the 1930s. Contributed photo from Wadena Pioneer Journal

Lloyd Paulson, of Moorhead, is recommending $1 million in grants to aid in the replace­ment of the present pool by offer­ing the community of Parkers Prairie a “million dollar challenge.”

The need for a new pool is urgent, said Jim Arvidson, co-chair of the Parkers Prairie Public Swimming Pool Committee. Last summer there were mechanical problems that closed the pool in Parkers Prairie periodically. This challenge is an opportunity to make the new pool a reality sooner rather than later.

The Parkers Prairie Public Swim­ming Pool Committee learned recently that a donor wanted to help make the new aquatic center a reality. Sheryl Myers and Arvidson, co-chairs of the steering committee, along with Tom Myers, attended a meeting at West Central Initiative in Fergus Falls to meet with an individual. Not knowing who the individual was, they were pleasantly surprised when Lloyd Paulson, of Moorhead, walked into the meeting.

He informed the committee that he intends to recommend grants from the Lloyd and Beverly (Ger­hardson) Paulson Family Donor Advised Fund of $800,000 for pool construction and $200,000 for an Endowment Fund to support pool maintenance if certain con­ditions are met. The timing of the grant recommendation may depend on the success of the com­munity’s fundraising efforts.

Community support is a requirement of receiving the $1 million grant.

The first condition is that the community must raise $534,300 more than the already committed $465,700 for the pool. The second condition is that at least 200 donors must make gifts or pledges of $1,000 or more to show community support. If more than $1 million is raised by the community then that money will be added to the endowment fund for future additions or maintenance of the pool.

Sharing what the good Lord has helped him to achieve in his life, Paulson wanted to support his hometown in this swimming pool project because he believes in the importance of healthy youth and adult recreation that the pool provides to people in this area. His desire is to inspire more local giving.

Since the news about Paulson’s intention to give grants totaling $1 million toward replacing the old pool, a number of people have asked who Paulson is and why is he able to make such an offer.

Paulson credits the sacrifices of his parents and grandparents, Frank and Hilda Pe­terson, for his success. His grandparents settled in the Eagle Lake area in a dugout on the side of the hill about one mile east of Eagle Lake.

“I’m grateful for all that my parents and grand­parents did for me,” he said.

Paulson celebrated his 90th birthday last August. His parents, Esther and Carl Paulson, farmed just a couple of miles west of Parkers Prairie. One of five children, he grew up on that farm during the Great Depression in the 1930s. He received his diploma from Parkers Prairie High School.

Following World War II, he married Beverly Ger­hardson, a young lady from Fergus Falls, and they started their family. He wanted work during the win­ter months to supplement his income from farming, so he accepted a job in 1952 as a salesman at a Fargo, N.D., hardware store known as Scheels. That job changed his career direction as five years later Paulson was managing a company store in Wheaton, and in 1962, he moved to Moorhead, where he became a partner and manager for what is now known as Scheels All Sports.

An employee-owned com­pany, Scheels had started to transition from hardware to sporting goods by the time Paulson retired in 1980. Still own­ing stock in the Scheels company, Paulson uses the proceeds from that stock to fund his philan­thropy.

His “paying back” has helped the Lions com­plete the Event Center in Parkers Prairie and was instrumental in helping First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Parkers Prairie update their kitchen and build a narthex that included an elevator. The congregation was asked to give a certain percentage of the amount he gave for construction to a mis­sion of The God’s Child Project in Guatemala. He continues to stay involved in the community by help­ing the cemetery board.

In each of these “paying back” gifts Lloyd expects the recipients to get involved in giving so that they can get to whatever goal they are hoping to achieve. That is the real gift of his giving, he says.

The committee set a goal of $1.8 million raised in donations to begin construction on the new pool. They have reached about $1.3 million after starting a year and a half ago, thanks to community efforts and Paulson’s initiative. The committee hopes construction on the aquatic center will begin by the end of the summer.

Further donations for pool construction can be made by emailing parkersprairiepool@gmail.com, from the link on the pool’s website at www.parkersprairiepool.org or by calling Arvidson at (218) 639-5323 or Sheryl Myers at (218) 371-7822.