Not many love stories start with a sink full of dishes, but that’s where David (Ph.D. Entomology, ’76) and Linda (B.S. Home Economics, ’71) Maschwitz’s began. David and Linda met at Itasca Biological Station and Laboratories (IBSL). He was a graduate student. She was a summer employee from the local community. They got introduced when David was volunteered by former station director, Dr. Bill Marshall, to wash pots and pans when the kitchen was short-staffed.
“Right away, David asked me if I wanted to go to an evening talk about some aspect of the flora and fauna that students would be seeing at Itasca … we just sort of clicked, and that was the beginning,” says Linda, who grew up on a farm eight miles north of the station. She had just graduated from high school and started her first job as a waitress at IBSL.
David moved from Ames, Iowa to Minnesota to start graduate school at the College of Biological Sciences in 1963. David and Linda’s fateful meeting happened two years later while David was taking summer classes and conducting fieldwork. “Those years, the mid-1960s, might have been the peak of the vibrancy at the station,” says David. “We had faculty from all around the country teaching topics from aquatic plants and mammalogy to fungi.”
Toward the end of that summer, the reality set in that David and Linda had to return to their lives. David went back to the St. Paul campus to continue his studies. Linda headed to Bemidji State University to start her bachelor's degree in home economics. The more time they spent apart, the more they knew their relationship was special. Later that fall, David drove to Bemidji to propose to Linda. She accepted, and in June 1966, they exchanged vows at the Mission Catholic Church, just north of Itasca State Park, followed by a reception at Douglas Lodge.
After they tied the knot, Linda transferred to the University of Minnesota, where she finished her bachelor’s degree. A few years later, their family grew as they welcomed two sons. In addition to raising children, Linda held a variety of jobs, most recently as a patient services representative at Fairview University Medical Center. David worked at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for 34 years, where he developed water quality standards to protect fish and aquatic life from toxic pollutants.
Throughout their life, the couple remained connected to the station personally and more recently, philanthropically. They understand the transformative power of education in a field setting and how it could ignite a passion that lasts a lifetime. Their support for the Itasca Graduate Research Fellowship and John Tester Research Fund has allowed numerous students the opportunity to spend time at Itasca. Both funds support research activities at the station, while the Itasca Graduate Research Fellowship has provided financial support to 11 students since its inception in 1999.
For the Maschwitzs, giving is a two-way street. They enjoy learning what the research fellowship recipients are doing at Itasca and sometimes even see it in action. “We had met one of the students who received funding from the fellowship and watched him and his colleague filming dragonflies with high-speed video equipment,” says David. “It was amazing and fascinating.”
David and Linda recently celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. Their journey from a chance encounter to a lifetime of love, learning and philanthropy is a testament to the impact the station can have on people’s lives. Linda expressed this sentiment, saying, "I think the University and Itasca changed my life. To think that a gift could give a student a chance [at Itasca] and develop a career out of that is pretty neat."
– Elizabeth Caballero