Posted 2 years ago

By Post Staff

Vern ChicoineClick on the left side of the black bars below to access audio

Chadron State Foundation, the endowment arm of Chadron State College, has received the largest single gift in its history…$2.6-million dollars…from trust set up by rancher, businessman, and philanthropist Vern Chicoine, who died in February 2003 at age 89.

In honor of the gift, the school will, with the approval of  the Nebraska State College Board of Trustees, name the school’s new gymnasium now under construction the Vern Chicoine Events Center.

Although the Foundation received the major portion of the Chicoine Trust, many other entities also shared in his generosity.

Foundation executive director Connie Rasmussen says the gift is special not just because of its size, but because of how much Chicoine loved the college and how important he felt it was to the entire region.


Chicoine had given some $800,000 in specific gifts to the college including the donation of his house across from the campus as the President’s Home and key funding for the Con Marshall Press Box at Elliott FIeld-Don Beebe Stadium and the Sandoz Center’s Vern and Madge Fortune Chicoine Atrium

Rasmussen says the trust agreement for this latest gift provided his widow, Madge Fortune Chicoine, with a life estate. She passed away in last November at age 88, setting in motion the actual donation.


The donation stipulates that the principal must be left intact, but the earnings may be used at the discretion of the Foundation’s board of directors…which Rasmussen says has already decided that the first $1-million will be used to help fund what will be the Chicoine Events Center.


Rasmussen says Chadron State’s share of the trust at the time of Mrs. Chicoine’s death was $2.3 million, but that has already grown by $300,000…money immediately available for use on the Events Center project.

CSC President Dr Randy Rhine calls it “an amazing gift that will greatly benefit Chadron State as we strive to continue to build on the tradition of excellence that it has had for many years.”

Chicoine grew up in Valentine and moved Chadron in 1937 to work for the Ford agency when the family purchased it.  He and his wife attended practically every activity at Chadron State…athletic events, plays, concerts, and speakers…until just weeks before his death.

He was the mayor of Chadron in 1950-51, was president of the Chadron Rotary Club and Chadron Chamber of Commerce, and served on the  Chadron State Foundation board for nearly 40 years.

Vern Chicoine was given the Chadron State College Distinguished Service Award in 1994, was first recipient of the Friend of Education Award from the CSC Faculty Senate, and was inducted into the Chadron State Athletic Hall of Fame for meritorious service in 1997.