Fred Hedberg was just 13 years old in 1906 when his Swedish immigrant father died in a tragic streetcar accident. As a result, young Fred quit the eighth grade to help care for his widowed mother and sisters. He took over his father’s small business running a horse-drawn sprinkling wagon for the city of Minneapolis, working long hours to tame the dust on the city’s unpaved streets.
Later, as a young man, Fred Hedberg found work digging basements and making small concrete blocks by hand on Lake Street in Minneapolis. Through sheer grit and some fortuitous connections, Fred opened a number of sand and gravel mines and Ready Mix concrete plants around the Twin Cities area.
When Fred Hedberg died in 1984, he left his widow, Dorothy, with significant assets. And thus a new challenge arose for the Hedberg
family: what to do with the money saved from Fred Hedberg’s lifetime of hard work.
Encouraged by her only son, John Hedberg, Dorothy set up the Hedberg Family Foundation in 1986, just four years before she herself passed away.
“Through our family foundation, we can teach our kids and our grandkids what it means to be a family that gives” - John Hedberg
The $1 million foundation then transferred into the hands of John, daughter-in-law Jean Hedberg and, by 1991, the four grandchildren, Steve, Peter, Carrie, and Tom.
“Grandad and Nana were frugal and thoughtful people,” says granddaughter Carrie (Hedberg) Stucky. “I think all of us took very seriously this idea of a family foundation, of doing good works with the money, and never wasting a dollar of it.”
With help from U.S. Bank’s Charitable Services Group, the Hedbergs sat down and established guidelines and priorities for their foundation that spoke to them as a family: supporting medical research; promoting justice, freedom, and peace through the rule of law; promoting humane care of dogs and other living creatures; advocating for the protection and care of the land and environment; and promoting the education, care, and well being of children, teenagers, and young adults.