DSC_0023Jens Stensaas may not be a familiar name to many people today, but because of a generous donation from one of his descendants, his legacy of service to Bethany College continues.

Bill Gusenius and his wife Carol have donated $150,000 to Bethany College from sale of land formerly owned by Jens and Blanche Stensaas, Bill’s grandparents. The unrestricted gift is offered to help meet current financial needs and be used as a challenge for others. The Gusenius’, both 1973 graduates of Bethany and Lindsborg residents, decided the time was right to make the donation.

“The gift is a stretch and financially makes little to no sense for us,” Bill said. “But this isn’t an ordinary time for the college and we want to encourage other alumni to step up and give.”


Bill and Carol Gusenius, Homecoming 1972, outside Presser Hall.

The land has been with the family since the 1880’s when it was acquired in Ness County by Blanche’s father. Jens Stensaas graduated from Bethany in 1901 and was asked by Dr. Carl A. Swensson to join the faculty. He met Blanche at Bethany and later worked at the college as its business manager until he retired in 1948.

Both Gusenius and his wife have carried on the family tradition of service to Bethany. Bill is a former board member and chair and Carol has served on the Alumni Council and Bethany Auxiliary. They host Bethany students and both sing in the annual Messiah performance.

When Jens Stensaas passed away in 1965, Dr. L. Dale Lund, Bethany’s president at that time, described him as one of the “unsung heroes of Bethany” for his untiring efforts on behalf of the college. “Various individuals leave various legacies,” Lund said. “Jens Stensaas left the example of service and people who follow it. There is no greater legacy.”

The gift to Bethany from Gusenius affirms his grandfather’s legacy. “I didn’t do anything to earn this land except to be the descendent of a family that cared about the college. If it can benefit Bethany I think Grandpa would have approved,” Bill said.