Family's Deep Iowa State Roots Yield New Opportunities for Students

Charlie Persinger

Charlie Persinger is furthering his parents' legacy of giving

Growing up as the only child of farmers in western Iowa, Charlie Persinger was given an allowance of 25 cents per week.

A small amount, yet it held enormous value as a life lesson. His parents, Charles and Phyllis, advised their son that a dime should go to the church and a nickel to savings. He could spend the remaining 10 cents as he pleased.

"I was taught early on that I had a responsibility to give," Persinger said.

Persinger's parents led by example. They provided financial and volunteer support for causes that were important to them — Boy and Girl Scouts, ISU Extension, their church and other community organizations. Persinger's father served as president of the Monona County Fair Board for 25 years and was active with the Siouxland ISU Alumni Association.

Several years prior to his father's death in 2012, Persinger sat down with his parents to discuss their estate plans, expecting to follow a similar allocation.

"I assumed they would choose to leave a portion to their church," he remembered. "To my surprise my father said, 'I would really like to help provide scholarships for students at Iowa State.'"

A proud and dutiful son, Persinger got to work helping his parents set up the Charles C. and Phyllis J. Persinger Alpha Gamma Rho Scholarship in 2009.

Of course, his father's desire wasn't completely out of the blue. The Persingers were Cyclones through and through. "I didn't know there was any other university," he said. "My father graduated from Iowa State in 1949, so we talked about Iowa State, we followed Iowa State athletics, we were active in 4-H and Extension programs, and when it came time to apply, there was only one application submitted — to Iowa State."

He entered college in 1976 majoring in agricultural and life sciences education, and still remembers the elation that fall when Iowa State beat Nebraska at football. It was an unforgettable moment for a Cyclone fan who had grown up less than 10 miles from the Nebraska state line.

His parents' community service example ingrained in him, Persinger knew early on that he wanted a career working with people. Not long after graduating in 1981, he joined ISU Extension, serving as a 4-H and Youth Leader in Sioux, O'Brien and Linn counties. He also worked for the Soil and Water Conservation Society, ISU Continuing Education and the Ames Convention and Visitors Bureau before taking on his current responsibilities as director of ceremonies and special events at the University of Kansas.

And his commitment to giving and living by his parents' example is stronger than ever. Continuing the family's legacy of giving, Persinger has made his own bequest to support scholarships, agriculture and art, and dean's initiatives in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as well as University Museums.

"Hopefully I have been, and will continue to be, a good steward of my resources and have the capability to give throughout my life, but also leave a legacy for future Iowa State leaders," he said.

Does your family share a passion for Iowa State? Create your family's Cyclone legacy with a gift to the Iowa State University Foundation in your will or other long-term financial plan. Contact the office of gift planning at 800.621.8515 or to start planning your gift today.