University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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UW-Eau Claire Foundation Receives $50,000
in Bequests from Centenarians' Estates

 MAILED:  July 6, 2004

EAU CLAIRE - The UW-Eau Claire Foundation has received gifts from the estates of a longtime Eau Claire dentist and a member of UW-Eau Claire's first graduating class, each of whom lived more than 100 years.

Harry Egdahl left $25,000 to the Foundation to establish the Cassandra Ball Egdahl Scholarship for exceptional music students. Bernadette (Walsh) Byrne, a member of the first class to enter UW-Eau Claire (then the Eau Claire State Normal School) in 1916, left a gift of $25,000 to be used for faculty development. Both bequests are recognized as contributions to UW-Eau Claire's ongoing comprehensive fund-raising campaign, Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence.

Egdahl practiced dentistry in Eau Claire for more than 70 years and retired when he was 97. He died in February 2003 at the age of 107. His will provided for the creation of the music scholarship in memory of his first wife, who died in 1957. Egdahl is survived by his second wife, Babette Anderson Egdahl, to whom he was married for 43 years.

Egdahl married schoolteacher Rebecca Cassandra Ball sometime after she arrived in Eau Claire in 1921. "Cass" Egdahl "was a wonderful woman, and my father's gift to UW-Eau Claire in her name would have pleased her," the couple's son, Richard H. Egdahl, wrote in a letter to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation.

Richard Egdahl wrote that his mother, who died in 1957, "had a special interest and talent in music," noting that she attended many Minneapolis Symphony concerts and was "an inveterate listener to the Saturday afternoon performances of the Metropolitan Opera."

The gift from Harry Egdahl's estate came as a surprise, said Carole Halberg, UW-Eau Claire Foundation president.

"Our only regret is that we never had the chance to thank Mr. Egdahl personally for this generous gift in support of the university," Halberg said.

Byrne died in March 2003 at the age of 104. After earning her teaching certificate from UW-Eau Claire, she received a bachelor's degree from UW-Madison and taught in high schools in Pittsville, Spring Valley and Chilton. Following her teaching career, she worked in the state department of banking until her retirement.

Byrne was a first cousin of the late Grace Walsh, longtime professor and director of forensics at UW-Eau Claire. Byrne had notified the UW-Eau Claire Foundation about the provision in her will for the university, and she was a member of the Council Oak Society, which recognizes those who have confirmed planned or deferred gifts to the Foundation.

"It's touching that UW-Eau Claire held a special place in Bernadette's heart for so many years," Halberg said. "We're honored and most grateful to receive this gift from an alumna who was part of the university's very first class."



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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: July 6, 2004