For the late Ida Wiens, it was a love of learning that motivated her to complete her education, drove a successful career as a teacher and inspired a gift that leaves a legacy.
Growing up in rural Saskatchewan, it was not easy for Wiens to pursue an education. She attended Rosenfeld County School initially but had to complete her high school by correspondence before being accepted to normal school in Regina. Wiens left home at the age of 20 to obtain a teaching certificate.
"She had to work her way through normal school to pay for room and board. My parents helped her where they could but they didn't have much to give," says her brother Reinard Kohls. "Given her background and the fact that she was relatively without means, it was very impressive that she was able to do what she did."
Following graduation, Wiens taught in small schools throughout Saskatchewan and Alberta before settling in Coaldale in 1948.
"She would tell young people to stay in school, keep their noses to the grindstone and get an education," remembers Kohls. He says for Wiens there was no better investment.
For her, learning was a continual process and she remained committed to her own education throughout her career. Although she taught full-time, Wiens pursued a bachelor of education degree through the University of Alberta by taking classes over several summers.
She spent more than 36 years in the classroom before retiring in 1980. But even then, education remained a priority and having spent much of her life in southern Alberta, Wiens saw great value in the University of Lethbridge.
"Ida and her husband Elmer were immensely proud that southern Alberta had managed to get its own university," says Kohls. "Having grown up in small communities themselves, they saw this as a great opportunity for people from this area."
Grateful for her own education and successful career in teaching, Wiens wanted to ensure more students had the opportunity to go to university. With no living relatives, Wiens made an allowance in her estate for the University of Lethbridge. The Elmer and Ida Wiens Faculty of Education Bursary will help provide the financial means necessary to train the next generation of teachers.
Moreover, Wiens' commitment has inspired a lasting legacy – one that remembers a teacher who believed in the importance of continued education, and one that will benefit the University well into the future.
As a result of her bequest, Ida Wiens joins the Fiat Lux Legacy Society, a group of donors who have left a legacy gift or are planning a legacy gift that will benefit the University of Lethbridge in the future.
For more information, visit www.ulethbridge/giving or call 403-329-2582.
This story first appeared in the May 2012 issue of the Legend. For a look at the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.