Robert Sonsteng leaves Benson area 'transformational" gift

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By Reed Anfinson

If you would have driven by Robert C. Sonsteng’s rural southern Pope County home you would have seen an old white 1930’s farm house with a well used pickup in the yard.  The farm buildings looked run down.

If you had seen him on the street, in the grocery store or at the Benson VFW playing pull-tabs, you wouldn’t have been impressed by the way he dressed.

But very quietly Sonsteng was a very wealthy man and he has left the community the largest charitable gift it has ever received.

At the Benson Kiwanis meeting last week, Attorney Don Wilcox told members that Sonsteng’s estate has been valued at between $9 million and $9.5 million. It is estimated that $5 million to $6 million of that value is in about 1,000 acres of farmland while close to $3.5 million is in cash assets. Of that cash, $1 million is going to the Benson Area Community Foundation and $2.5 million will go to the newly-established Robert Sonsteng Foundation. It is expected that the funds will generate....

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