Neighbors helping neighbors
Bob and Myrna Krohn give back to the community that taught them so much.
Posted: Mon, Jun 4, 2012
UNL alums Bob and Myrna Krohn of Omaha say their interest in helping the university took root as farm kids growing up in Boone County.
We both grew up on farms near Albion, Neb., in communities where sharing was common and survival required good decisions. Farm families were very giving and kind and when one farmer needed help, the others pitched in and helped. There was no asking. People just knew their help was needed and appreciated.
Philanthropy, he says, was not talked about back then. It was just something that everybody did – neighbors helping neighbors.
From a conversation with Bob:
Our farms were no more than 10 miles apart as a crow flies, but we didn't know each other growing up. Roads were not good back then, and farm communities were organized around the rural school districts. My father was on the school board for 39 years. He recruited teachers, and several times the teacher lived in our house. Every family helped the schools serve their community. Our paths crossed once at a going-away party for me before going to the Korean War, but we did not formally meet until we were students at the university in Lincoln.
The University of Nebraska opened up the world to us. It gave us opportunities. Myrna earned degrees in elementary education and speech pathology and later received a master's degree in speech pathology and audiology. I earned a civil engineering degree. We had great teachers. That's why we give back to the university and our community organizations.
Our two main areas of interest are education and medicine. Myrna is especially passionate about early diagnosis and treatment of children with special needs. She worked as a speech therapist at the Munroe-Meyer Institute after we were married and now serves on its board of directors. It's been very rewarding to her to see the facility grow and expand its diagnostic and treatment services, as well as education and research.
My engineering education developed my abilities to analyze situations and create solutions. This served me well as the leader of three significant companies and permitted me to contribute to many civic and corporate boards. I became interested in the medical field when I led HDR. It became the largest designer of health care facilities in the world, so I was around medical people most of the time. A lot of our close friends are doctors, and I've been active as a volunteer board member in many health organizations. I chair the advisory board to the UNMC Cancer Research Center.
We also give back to Albion because the people there gave so much to us. We were very fortunate to grow up in that environment. I firmly believe most world problems today still need to be addressed by the local residents who understand the conditions.
The university's "Building a Healthier Nebraska" initiative will include the building of a research tower as part of a proposed comprehensive cancer center.
If, like the Krohns, you also would like to help the University of Nebraska reach its goals for its cancer research and early childhood education – both among the top priorities of the Campaign for Nebraska – please consider giving online or contact the foundation at 800-432-3216.