Peter Heegaard, in partnership with his wife, Anne, gave retirement and money a good name.
Armed with an Ivy League MBA, Heegaard, who died this month at 85, founded and ran the high-end wealth management business for a decade at-then Norwest Corp. before he retired in 1996 at age 60.
Heegaard also invested in the have-nots, especially in his retirement chapter. The coalitions he joined — or formed — and Twin Cities neighborhoods he helped are better for his work.
He not only gave money, he used his “connections, communications and cache” to bring nonprofits, donors and the people needing help together, said Sondra Samuels, chief executive of the Northside Achievement Zone (NAZ), which works with partner schools, nonprofits and others to help families bridge opportunity and income gaps to break generational poverty.
“Peter would meet with some of our families. And he would bring those young bankers and his friends to learn about us. And meet people whose houses were flipped or foreclosed. He saw the damage and listened to people who wanted to do better,” she said. “And that the connectedness is essential. And how we must interrupt life patterns … so that we can help people change their lives.”
Peter and Anne Heegaard also helped Samuels replace federal “empowerment zone” seed capital of about $28 million a decade ago with $35 million in private capital in a several-years effort concluded in 2021.
While their philanthropic work ramped up during retirement, it started way before then, said Anne Heegaard, Peter’s wife of 63 years.
Their Presbyterian minister in the early 1960s recruited them to serve women at a Hennepin County correctional society, she said. By the 1970s they were helping to house Central American refugees.
“We started out playing [the Whist card game] with ‘ladies of the night’ at the workhouse and ended up [befriending] some of them and helping with their problems, and sometimes training and jobs,” she said.
“We always enjoyed people of different ethnicities and backgrounds,” she said. “We had similar interests and a passion for people who wanted to give and for people who were down on their luck and needed a hand-up.”
The couple hosted gatherings with a guest list that included both affluent and low-income folks. More than one affluent donor confessed that it was the Heegaards who inspired them to engage, beyond writing a check. And he analyzed and embraced effective nonprofit businesses such as NAZ, the Project for Pride in Living housing-and-careers developer, Neighborhood Development Center and many others.
“Peter helped a lot …….