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Gustofson, Donald “Don” Franklin

Published onJul 30, 2021
Gustofson, Donald “Don” Franklin

(February 29, 1932 — September 3, 2012)

Quick Facts

Iowa State College Graduate (1955); member, admissions and records office; Associate Director of Admissions; Director of ISU Achievement Fund and Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs; Executive Director of the Alumni Association and Director of Alumni Affairs; Director of Development at Iowa State University; Executive Director of Development, Montana State University.  


Donald was born on February 29, 1932 at Hampton, Iowa, a son of Harold Emmanuel Gustofson and Marion Virginia Sawtelle Gustofson.  While still a young child, the family moved to Fort Dodge where they lived for a number of years and then to Boone.  Don participated in dramatic arts and in the senior play, “The Divine Flora.”  He graduated from Boone High School in 1950.

After graduation, Don attended Iowa State College and also worked as a shoe salesman for Emerhoff Peterson at Emerhoff's Footwear on Main Street in Ames.  Don started by selling shoes to all customers but eventually became the manager of the children's shoe department.  Many years later, he was able to recall that his beginning pay for 50 cents an hour plus a 2 or 3 percent commission.  He also recalled that Ellen Sorge Parks, wife of W. Robert Parks, the future president of ISU, wore a size 6AA shoe.

Just before graduating from Iowa State and while still working for Emerhoff's, Don married Patricia Hope Sandell on January 1, 1955.  She had also attended Boone High School and graduated the year after Don's graduation.  They had four children; Deborah, Scott, Grant, and Kirsten. 

Don Gustofson graduated from Iowa State in 1955 was a B. S. in general science.  He taught at Milford Consolidated High School and Nevada High School in Story County for five years in subjects including algebra, general science, chemistry, and physics. 

In 1960, Gustofson started a 24 year career at Iowa State University by joining the admissions and records staff.  In 1966 he was promoted to Associate Director of Admissions.   Two years later, he was appointed as Director of the ISU Alumni Achievement Fund and Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs.  In 1971, he was promoted as Executive Director of the ISU Alumni Association and Director of Alumni Affairs.  In 1980, he was appointed Director of Development for ISU. 

During his years with the Alumni Association and Development, Gustofson played a crucial part in fund raising for a number of major projects at ISU.  From 1968 to 1978, the number of donors increased from 8, 600 to more than 20,000.  Traditional programs with alumni clubs and special events expanded significantly.  New programs began, such as the Student Alumni Association, book publications, workshops, alumni travel programs, and Alumni Art Competition.  Gustofson frequently appeared as a panelist or consultant at alumni meetings in Ames and across the country.   He was also in frequent communication with President W. Robert Parks' office.  He advocated  a combined effort of the Association Fund with the ISU Foundation to facilitate projects.  He has also been credited with the original idea for the Green Hills Project, the retirement center, and the Gateway Hotel complex just south of the campus on Highway 30.  He was also closely involved in the process of fundraising and the construction of the complex.  His success was due in part to his outgoing personality, his ease in talking with people, and quite a sense of humor.

He served as secretary-treasurer of the Iowa Association of College Admissions Counselors from 1964 to 1966 and as president from 1966-1968.  The purpose of the association was to work with high school students and counselors to make the transition from high school to college easier for new students.  He also served as Institute Chairperson of the faculty conference on alumni administration held at Michigan State University which was sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.  While working at Iowa State, Gustofson also served on a number of committees and boards.  He was a member of the ISU Commencement Committee, the Stanton Memorial Carillon Foundation, the Alumni Hall Board of Trustees, (all from 1971-1980) , and the ISU Cemetery Committee (1971-1984.)  Also, on several occasions he assisted doctoral  students at ISU in the preparation of their dissertations by assembling data or helping students to make contacts with participants in their study.  

In the fall of 1984, Gustofson tendered his resignation to take a position as Executive Director of Development at Montana State University.  His last few years at ISU had been extremely successful, and he had been thinking about making the move to Montana State for two years for a new challenge but wanted to see the completion of the Green Hills project and the fundraising campaign that was supporting it.  In leaving, he stated, “These have been golden years at this place...Now the program here has reached its mature stage.” 

After working at Montana State, Gustofson retired and returned to Ames.  In his retirement years, he was very active.  He was a member of the Order of the Knoll and the Story County Conservation Board of which served as director from 1996 to 2000.  He was also a board member of the Ames Foundation, a member of the Ames Chamber of Commerce, the Ames Kiwanis Club, Ducks Unlimited, Ames Golf and Country Club, and the First Christian Church of Ames.

Donald Franklin Gustofson died at Green Hills Care Center in Ames on September 3, 2012.  Don's remains were cremated, but there is no known interment site.


Selected Sources

The primary source of information on Donald Franklin Gustofson is in the Don F. Gustofson Papers RS 21/1/11, Boxes 1 and 2, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University.  The collection includes personnel information, interoffice communications, and newspaper clippings. 

A number of communications and general information on the Alumni Association were found in the W. Robert Parks Papers, RS 2/11, Boxes 5, 10, and 11, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University. 

Other information was found online on Gustofson's activities at Boone High School, his job at Emerhoff's (from the Ames Historical Society, based on articles from the Ames Daily Tribune, August 15, 1956, pages 2, 6), his employment at Milford High School, two doctoral dissertations from the Iowa State University Digital Repository, his position at Montana State University, the Ames Foundation, and the Green Hills Chimes (publication of the Green Hills Retirement Community.) 

Family information was found on including the 1940 U. S. Census and a Public Family Member tree.

Discussion of Gustofson's personality occurred in an interview with Eric Wierson at the Ames Historical Society on May 23, 2019.




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