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Oct. 1, 2011

DWU donors tell how white bikini sparked long, successful marriage

To a full house at Dakota Wesleyan University on Friday, philanthropist couple Fritz and Glenda Corrigan told how glandular attraction provided the spark that would grow into a successful 42-year marriage and a life of giving. The Corrigans’ talk, “The White Bikini,” was part of the Opperman Distinguished Alumni Lecture series at the Sherman Center. It shared the values that made the couple a powerhouse team. The Corrigans, of Edina, Minn., recently donated $5 million toward the new Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center.

Ross Dolan • The Daily Republic


Glenda Corrigan, left, looks on as husband Fritz speaks to the audience at the Sherman Center Friday, as part of the Opperman Distinguished Alumni Lecture series. The couple has donated $5 million toward the new $11.5 million Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center. (Ross Dolan/Republic)

To a full house at Dakota Wesleyan University on Friday, philanthropist couple Fritz and Glenda Corrigan told how glandular attraction provided the spark that would grow into a successful 42-year marriage and a life of giving.

The Corrigans’ talk, “The White Bikini,” was part of the Opperman Distinguished Alumni Lecture series at the Sherman Center. It shared the values that made the couple a powerhouse team.

The Corrigans, of Edina, Minn., recently donated $5 million toward the new Glenda K. Corrigan Health Sciences Center.

Glenda Corrigan is a 1964 Dakota Wesleyan University alumna who has devoted her life to children, first as a teacher and later as a mother and grandmother. She initially attended the University of Iowa, but “it was too big for me,” she said.

A friend suggested Dakota Wesleyan, and after a 16-hour bus ride from Iowa City to Mitchell and a campus visit, Glenda said, “I knew I had found the perfect place for me. Little did I know how much DWU would affect my life.”

Glenda later became a teacher at a Cedar Rapids school.

Fritz Corrigan, a Dartmouth alumnus, recalled with humor first setting his eyes on Glenda at a apartment house pool on Memorial Day 1969. Glenda, wearing a white bikini, had gone to the pool to check out the guys — taking along a copy of “Golf for Women” as a cover.

Fritz, who was then an ambitious young man working for Cargill, was fresh off the golf course, noticed the attractively clad young woman and a friend introduced them. Enthalled, Fritz noticed only the next day that his legs had been badly sunburned during the poolside conversation with his wife-to be.

During a golf outing soon after, Fritz noted wryly that soon it became evident that “Golf for Women” was only a prop.

The couple was married in 1969. “We were a couple of kids not knowing what we were going to do next,” said Fritz, who recalled their honeymoon was only four days long, because “that was all we could afford.”

Glenda was seeking stability, Fritz said, and he assured her that he didn’t expect much travel. As it turned out, the family moved nine times during the first 18 years of marriage, he said.

While Fritz had the continuity of his colleagues at work, Glenda was faced with the challenges of making new friends, finding doctors and building a stable home life during each move.

“Teamwork is about putting yourself second,” summed up Glenda. Each credited their parents with providing the foundational models of Midwest stability. “I think our kids would agree that our moves were character-building experiences,” she said.

“Teamwork is hard work, and achieving your goals takes commitment as well,” Fritz said.

His career with Cargill eventually morphed into a new career as CEO of Mosaic, a fertilizer company that had been acquired by Cargill and launched as a publicly traded entity. At Cargill, Fritz said he learned to discuss, decide and support.

“Once the team decided what to do, we moved forward,” he said.

Attitude is all, the couple agreed.

“We chose to have a positive outlook on each move,” Glenda said, repeating that a positive attitude was, and is, a choice.

Fritz advised students to have fun in their work. “If you aren’t having fun, you’re wasting your time,” he said.

Fritz Corrigan, with a nod toward former Sen. George McGovern, who was seated in the audience, said both McGovern and former President George W. Bush have been personal inspirations in their lives.

While each statesman espouses a different political ideology, each also has a strong moral compass that places the welfare of the country first.

The Corrigans advised students attending their lecture to have courage, to not be afraid to take risks and to love.

“Without love, there is nothing,” Glenda said. “We’re grateful for the love of God and that He has given us this opportunity to serve. Thank you for this opportunity to give back and to invest in your future.”

Related Link: Watch the Opperman Lecture

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