Margaret Ann Jordan:
Making a Difference through Planned Giving 

When Vesterheim member Margaret Ann Jordan placed the winning bid on an item in Vesterheim’s 2021 Benefit Auction, she excitedly made plans to travel to Decorah from her home in Chicago to pick up the piece. The object was a stunning model of the Stave Church from Gol, Norway, and it was carefully crafted over the course of many hours and then donated for the auction by longtime Vesterheim member Jeff Roverud of Decorah. 

Margaret Ann’s reaction to finally seeing the church model in person was profound. As tears filled her eyes, she shared its deep meaning with Jeff and several members of the Vesterheim staff. In 2001, Margaret Ann and her partner took her mother, Birgit, to Norway for Syttende Mai. Birgit was born in Oslo, and she immigrated to the United States in the 1920s. During this meaningful trip back to Norway, they visited this very church in the Norsk Folkemuseum in Oslo. Margaret Ann described what it felt like to relive this special memory of her mother, who is now deceased, sharing, “It was like a stab in the heart, bringing back all of my memories. Seeing the church model brought about the same amazing sense of connection I had the first time I visited Vesterheim years ago.” 

Vesterheim is now written into Margaret Ann’s estate plan, and she explained the importance of her planned gift, stating, “The museum is a profound example of one particular group of immigrants, and Vesterheim represents not just Norwegian immigration, but immigration as a whole and the fabric of our nation. I want to make sure Vesterheim’s mission is carried on, and one of the best ways to do that is to make a substantial gift. One of our only opportunities to make a substantial gift is through a bequest. Because this type of gift can be made after our lifetime, we can help carry out the mission of the museum in an impactful way.” 

Tusen takk, Margaret Ann, for your heartfelt commitment to Vesterheim’s mission. It is our privilege to welcome you into the Valhalla Society, which includes donors who have chosen to honor their passion for preservation through their estate plans. These gifts provide a lasting legacy for the future of Vesterheim, for which we are eternally grateful. 


Learn More about Planned Giving at Vesterheim 

There are many types of planned giving, including bequests, charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, and others. No matter which type of planned gift is right for you, your generosity will leave a lasting impact at Vesterheim and ensure the museum’s vitality for years to come. 

Learn more here or contact Diane Wagner, Vice President of Donor Relations, at or 563-382-9681 to talk about your ideas. Have you already established a planned gift for Vesterheim? If so, please contact Diane Wagner to notify Vesterheim of your plans so that we can recognize you for your generous commitment.

Margaret Ann (right) with Jeff Roverud (left), who built and donated the model of the Gol Stave Church for Vesterheim’s 2021 Benefit Auction.
Tine with rosemaling used as a lunchbox by Margaret Ann’s mother, Birgit. The box was made by immigrant friends of Birgit’s family. The husband made the box and the wife did the rosemaling.