By Jessica Able, Record Staff Writer
The Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) received a $500,000 gift from Bernard A. Dahlem and his family.
Dahlem established the Helen Asman Dahlem Scholarship Fund to memorialize his late mother and to honor her “great love of Catholic education,” he said in a phone interview last week.
The CEF has agreed to raise an equal amount for the new fund, bringing the total value of the Dahlem gift to $1 million.
Richard A. Lechleiter, president of the CEF, said the gift is significant because it’s the first gift to the permanent endowment since the foundation was established in 1995. The endowment’s net assets are now approximately $16.5 million. Earnings from the new fund will be used to provide tuition assistance for students in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville in perpetuity, a news release from the CEF said.
Since 1995, “we have raised money and taken some earnings of the endowment out to do grants, but we have not added anything to the permanent endowment,” Lechleiter explained in a phone interview last week.
Dahlem, 86, said his mother’s Catholic education served as a “basis for her life.”
“It was those days of her life that inspired her to embrace her Catholic faith,” Dahlem said in the news release. “We are providing this gift to generations of deserving children whose families long for the same God-blessed education that my mother received in her life.”
Helen Asman Dahlem, born in 1907, attended St. James School in the Highlands and graduated from Presentation Academy in 1925 as valedictorian. She earned a full academic scholarship to Nazareth College, now Spalding University. She died in 1974.
Dahlem, who is originally from Louisville but now resides in Florida, described his mother as a devout Catholic and said he believes his mother would be delighted with the scholarship named in her honor.
“Her religion meant a lot to her. She prayed the rosary with regularity,” Dahlem said. He also noted his mother attended daily Mass for a large portion of her life.
Lechleiter said the Dahlem gift serves as a signal to the community.
“Each of our major gifts in the last couple of years has been very meaningful. This one takes on a little different meaning,” he said. “It says to our community that we want to grow the foundation on a long-term basis.”
Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz remarked that the Dahlem endowed scholarship fund will assist students for generations to come.
“Their generous gift will not only help those families who need us today, but those who will need us for generations to follow. What a very powerful gift indeed!” Archbishop Kurtz said in the release.