MACHIAS — For 28 years, from 1977 to 2005, Richard and Elsie Larson shared their business expertise with hundreds of students at the University of Maine at Machias.

Their sharing extended far beyond the classroom. During that time — and in the 16 years since the associate professors of business administration retired — they’ve donated substantial amounts of time, money and energy to their beloved school. 

For instance, every year since 2005, selected UMaine Machias students enrolled in a business-related program with a grade-point average of 3.2 have benefited from the Elsie A. and Richard C. Larson Scholarship. Students with athletic and music interests are given preference, which reflects Elsie Larson’s interest in music and Richard Larson’s love of athletics.  

And the Larsons aren’t done.

Years ago, they made UMaine Machias the final beneficiary of their respective Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association accounts. While the funds will be able to be used for any purpose, the Larsons have indicated that K–12 teacher education, business education, community health — including nursing training — and continued development of a campus student center are of particular importance to them. 

And Sept. 27, the Larsons finalized a deed transfer of their home to the University of Maine Foundation. The couple will continue to pay property taxes and live in their home for as long as they choose. When they decide to move, the Foundation will sell the home. And net proceeds from that sale will be endowed to provide unrestricted support for UMaine Machias. 

After Monday’s real estate closing, which had been in the works for a year, UMaine Machias hosted a Donor Appreciation Reception in Honor of Richard and Elsie Larson at Merrill Library.

The Larsons say since they retired that they have missed students the most. 

“We’re proud of the success of former graduates, specifically the business students,” they say, noting that many have gone on to successful careers, including in banking, accounting, management, marketing, office management, recreation management, public administration, technology, teacher education and other related careers.

“We’ve benefited from the University of Maine at Machias. The road goes both ways. Everybody working together for a common cause benefits the community.”

Richard Larson’s background is in economics, and he understands economies of scale. He’s excited for the University of Maine and UMaine Machias, which is a regional campus of UMaine, to collaborate to better benefit students and faculty on both campuses, as well as both regions of the state. 

“Elsie and Richard Larson are committed educators who have helped hundreds of students achieve success and join the proud legacy of the University of Maine at Machias,” says UMaine President Joan Ferrini-Mundy. “They are also generous community builders who understand the value of public higher education. 

“We are incredibly grateful to Elsie and Richard for their donations in support of our current and future students,” continued Ferrini-Mundy. “For years to come, their gifts will support our service to the Down East region and the vital role our Machias campus plays in the statewide mission of Maine’s research and land grant university.”  

Jeff Mills, president and CEO of the University of Maine Foundation, says the Larsons have created a very substantial legacy for UMaine Machias. “We were very happy to facilitate the transfer of their beautiful property to benefit UMaine’s regional campus,” he says.

Richard Larson was chairman of the UMM Business Division in 1984 when Jonathan Reisman joined UMaine Machias as an assistant professor.

“Rich and Elsie always exemplified community service and engagement, especially through their commitment to music and athletics,” says Reisman, now an associate professor of economics and public policy.  

“When this young assistant professor bought an unfinished house in the wilds on Cooper, Rich and Elsie were there in the heart of blackfly season to help us move. When my father was in the Veterans Home and later at Marshall’s Health Care, Rich and Elsie led musical events and even brought him the Sunday New York Times when I could not. Community service combined with ‘Minnesota nice.’”

The Larsons continue to be involved in the community where they’ve lived for nearly 45 years. Elsie Larson plays organ and piano at area churches and during Commencement at UMaine Machias. And after the donor reception in their honor Monday, Richard Larson was slated to moderate the Marshfield town meeting.