Winter 2012/13
Honors Volunteer Spirit and Philanthropy
Each year during Dakota Days, the University of South
Dakota Foundation honors volunteers with the Foundation’s
highest accolade, the Inman Award. Named for Darwin and
Adele Inman, early Vermillion residents and supporters of the
young university, the award is traditionally given to those who
share the generous spirit and philanthropic leadership of the
Inmans. This year’s recipients are Jim and Nini Hart and, in
memoriam, Robert and Marjorie Rawlins.
Raised in Miller, S.D., Jim Hart grew up helping his father
in the Hand County State Bank, knowing that running that
institution would one day be his destiny. After graduating from
USD in 1963 with a business degree and spending two years in
the U.S. Army, Jim made an auspicious move to California to
begin his professional career in the banking business. There he not
only got a strong business foundation, he also met and married
Nini Richardson. Five years later, Jim and Nini packed up their
young family and moved back to South Dakota, Jim’s hometown
of Miller and the family bank. In 1971, Jim was pursuing a full-
time career in the Hand County State Bank; by 1979, he was
president. He continued in that role until his retirement and the
sale of the bank in 2000.
A California girl, Nini quickly assimilated herself to her
community and became a full-fledged South Dakotan. Over the
years, she’s been a teacher, gift shop owner, museum curator, public
relations officer and has provided steadfast volunteer support to
many groups. She helped create a community day care center
in Miller, brought Relay for Life to town and served on various
political, religious and educational boards throughout the years.
Both Jim and Nini are civic-minded, conscious of the roles
they play. “I do a lot of volunteering,” Nini explained. “That’s
my life. I feel like I can give to our community more than just
financially.” They helped establish and served on the board of
the Miller Community Foundation and have also served terms
as directors on the South Dakota Community Foundation. In
addition, Jim served on the South Dakota Board of Regents
for six years. Both have been USD Foundation trustees since
the 1990s, and were active on the Campaign South Dakota
committee, where Jim was a member of the board of directors
from 1999-2004. Retired now, they split their time between Lake
Madison, S.D. and Surprise, Ariz.
“The Harts were a tremendous choice to honor this year, and
they were very honored to be selected,” said USD Foundation
President Steve Brown. “They were key factors of our volunteer
leadership during Campaign South Dakota and are interested in
the new campaign as well.”
Another couple that shared the Inman philanthropic spirit
is Robert ’40 and Marjorie Rawlins ’42. Both grew up in
Vermillion, S.D. and graduated from USD in the early 1940s.
Though they left the Midwest and spent their lives in California,
they never forgot USD, and their connection to Vermillion
remained strong. Over the years, they became some of the
university’s most generous donors, focusing their interests on
the development of premier music-education programs and the
establishment of the National Music Museum.
Former museum director André Larson, son of National Music
Museum founder Arne B. Larson, was a friend of the Rawlinses
and remembered the pivotal role they played in the establishment
of the museum. “At a time when the National Music Museum as
we know it today was little more than a dream, Bob and Marge
believed in that dream,” Larson said. “It was Bob and Marge
who provided the initial resources that were needed to make that
dream a reality.”
After Bob’s death in 1993, Marge continued her connection
to and support of USD music programs, establishing scholarships,
an endowed chair of music position and an endowed performance
trio, The Rawlins Trio. After her death in 2009, the legacy gift she
had established made her the most generous individual donor
to USD.
Because of the examples they set and the impact their gifts
have had on campus, the Rawlinses were honored by the USD
Foundation more than 10 years ago when the legacy gift program,
the Rawlins Society, was renamed in tribute to their generosity.
Left to right, Doyle Knudson,
President James W. Abbott,
Jim and Nini Hart and
Steve Brown
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