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Simple Living, Smart Giving

DOROTHY “DOT” PALMQUIST says she doesn’t need that much in life – food, shelter, some clothing. What she cares about more than accumulating more things is making sure families around the world have what they need to survive and thrive.

“My dad was a pastor,” says the 85-year-old mother of three and grandmother of five. “I learned early to give to church and support God’s work in the world. That never left me.”

Dot Palmquist

Both Dot and her late husband Donovan, former head of development for the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, faithfully supported the work of Lutheran World Relief throughout their marriage. And Dot says seeing the work in action affirmed and strengthened her commitment. In 1989, Dot and Donovan went on an LWR study visit to Kenya and Tanzania– and Dot says she will never forget the people she met and the things she saw.

“I was surprised by how little they had,” she recalls. “We visited a school and there were three to four children at a desk and they had no shoes on. I still remember that and it still makes me want to help.”

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And Dot has found a smart way to do it! Now that she’s older than 70 ½ years, she must take a distribution from her Individual Retirement Account (IRA) each year. Because she lives a simple life, she donates much of it to the work of LWR, allowing her to continue to support the work she loves while enjoying a savings on the taxes she’d ordinarily have to pay on those withdrawals.

“I don’t need a lot of extra money,” she explains. “All I need is food and gas for my car. I have enough clothes. It’s an easy way to give and after seeing people who need our help, I just want to give as much as I can.”

In addition to her generous donations from her IRA and other income, Dot also belongs to the quilting group at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in St. Paul, Minnesota. She and three other ladies meet weekly to piece, sew and tie quilts. Last year, the ladies donated an impressive 100 quilts to LWR!

We give thanks to Dot for her faithful and creative generosity and her continued prayers for the work of LWR and the people we serve together. If you are interested in learning how to give to LWR through your investment retirement account, please contact Mike Johnson, Philanthropic Advisor, at

This article appears in: LWR Special Reports

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