HistoryThe Rasmuson Foundation was created under a declaration of trust in May of 1955 by Jenny Rasmuson to honor her late husband, "E.A." Rasmuson.
E.A. Rasmuson immigrated to the United States from Sweden and eventually found himself in Yakutat working as a missionary of the Swedish Covenant Church. It was there that he met and married Jenny Olson, a Christian education worker who had been with the mission for more than a year. While in Yakutat, E.A. studied law through a correspondence course, eventually passing the bar examination for the Territory. The Rasmuson family moved to Skagway when E.A. became U.S. Commissioner for that city.
E.A. Rasmuson assumed leadership of the Bank of Alaska in 1918 in the midst of the financial disruption caused by World War I. Although he had no banking experience, he accepted the challenge of reviving a bank in serious financial trouble. E.A. never lost his faith in the Bank of Alaska, or the territory it served. Jenny Rasmuson served on the board of directors of the growing bank and shared her husband's dreams for Alaska. Together, they tirelessly promoted the growth of the Territory and the development of its rich natural resource potential.
E.A. Rasmuson died in 1949 and left the bank to his son, Elmer. Elmer was involved in the Foundation from its modest beginnings (the first Foundation grant was $125) and became the driving force behind its growth. When Elmer died in December 2000 at age 91, he left his personal fortune of more than $400 million to charity, much of it to the family foundation.
Elmer's vision for the Foundation was to support projects of lasting impact for the public benefit of all Alaskans. Today, Elmer's three children, Edward, Lile and Judy, his widow Mary Louise, daughter-in-law Cathryn, and grandchildren Adam Gibbons and Natasha von Imhof serve on the Foundation's 12-member board of directors and carry on his legacy.