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Willmar Area Community Foundation to honor Smiths, Bremer Bank

Lachlan and Kathryn Smith will be honored Thursday with the Willmar Area Community Foundation’s Philanthropy Award. (Submitted photo courtesy Willmar Area Community Foundation)

WILLMAR — The Willmar Area Community Foundation will present two awards during the foundation’s 15th annual dinner event Thursday.

Lachlan and Kathryn Smith will receive the foundation’s Philanthropy Award, and the Otto Bremer Foundation and Bremer Bank Willmar will receive the Community Builder Award.

The award dinner begins at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn and Willmar Conference Center. Molly Olson, granddaughter of Jennie-O Turkey Store founder Earl B. Olson, will be guest speaker.

‘Lach’ Smith

On learning of their nomination to receive the Philanthropy Award, the Smiths asked that the dinner be an occasion to celebrate all of the many donors and volunteers who make a positive difference in the community.

Dr. Lachlan “Lach’’ Smith grew up in Ames, Iowa, went to medical school at the University of Iowa and served his residency at Valley Medical Center in Fresno, Calif. The Smiths moved to Willmar in 1981. They have two sons, Will and Ben.

Lach Smith specializes in obstetrics and gynecology at Affiliated Community Medical Centers in Willmar. He has served as board member of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and as board chair and campaign chair of the United Way of West Central Minnesota.

He received the Physician Communicator Award from the Minnesota Medical Association for work on “On Call for Health” with Pioneer Public Television. He participated in the Blandin Community Leadership Program.

He serves with the Willmar Rotary Club, is past president and is a Paul Harris Fellow for significant support of the Rotary. He is a director for Rice Memorial Hospital and serves on and is past chair of the Rice Health Foundation Board.

‘Kit’ Smith

The Honorable Kathryn “Kit’’ Smith graduated from Edina High School. She received degrees from Iowa State University and the University of Iowa, attended William Mitchell Law School in St. Paul, and worked with the Schmidt, Thompson, Johnson and Moody law firm in Willmar. She was appointed district court judge in 1997.

She served as president of the Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, president of the Kandiyohi County chapter of the American Cancer Society, a member of the advisory board of the Southwest and West Central Educational Cooperative Services Unit, a Rotary reader at Jefferson and Kennedy Elementary Schools, a Cub Scout troop leader, Chamber of Commerce Leadership Perspectives co-chair, Safe Avenues Women’s Shelter volunteer, and is a member of many organizations such as Faith Lutheran Church, Willmar Noon Kiwanis and the Willmar Lakes Rotary. Kit Smith is also a Paul Harris Fellow.

As district court judge, she was lead judge for the Kandiyohi County Children’s Justice Initiative. She chaired the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Juvenile Delinquency Rules Committee and was a member of the Court’s Racial Fairness Committee and Committee for Equality and Justice. She is a member of the state’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee. Her work with juvenile justice issues at the state level has benefited juveniles throughout the state.

Lach Smith is a board member and Kit Smith previously a board member of the Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA. They were co-chairs of the United Way of West Central Minnesota Pillars Campaign. They volunteer for Meals on Wheels, helped construct the Spicer playground, and run, bike and work in their yard and gardens in Spicer.

Otto Bremer Foundation

The Otto Bremer Foundation was created by Otto Bremer, a German immigrant who came to Minnesota in 1886 seeking opportunities for a good life. Over the next 36 years, he worked his way up to become the chairman of the American National Bank and a dedicated community leader involved in civic, financial and corporate life. He believed that people could survive and flourish if they had help at critical times.

The foundation assists people in achieving full economic, civic and social participation in and for the betterment of their communities. Its mission, based on Bremer’s commitment to communities during and after the Great Depression, is carried forward today in nearly 80 cities in Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin where Bremer banks are located. The foundation has provided more than $406 million in grants since its founding.

Bremer Bank Willmar

Bremer Bank Willmar was established in 1876, six years after the founding of Willmar Township. Today the bank continues its long tradition as a significant partner with nonprofits, businesses and philanthropic donors.

Bremer Bank Willmar employees act on the company’s vision of building healthy communities by donating thousands of volunteer hours, taking on key leadership positions and giving generously with their financial support.

Last year, Bremer Bank Willmar employees logged more than 9,200 volunteer hours, supporting such organizations as the African Development Center, Arc of Kandiyohi County, Goodwill Willmar, Rice Hospice, Safe Avenues, United Way of West Central Minnesota, Kandiyohi County Area Family YMCA, West Central Industries, Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce, Willmar Community Senior Network, Willmar Public Schools and numerous others.

Founding member to retire

Dean Anderson, one of the foundation’s founding members, will be honored. He is retiring, will be moving to Florida in October and will attend his last event. Anderson was the foundation’s first chair and first executive. Otto Bremer Foundation grants helped launch the Willmar Area Community Foundation.

More about the foundation and the awards dinner can be found online at

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150