Longtime supporters of private, liberal arts education, O. Jay and Pat Tomson will receive Wartburg College’s annual Graven Award on Monday, Nov. 15. 


They will accept the award during Weekday Chapel at 10:15 a.m. in Wartburg Chapel. The public is invited.  

Through their history of supporting private, liberal arts education in the Midwest, the Tomsons have invested significantly in the lives of thousands of students.  

“No two people are finer examples of lay leadership than Pat and O. Jay Tomson. Inspired Christians, they look constantly for opportunities to help others, particularly young people seeking an education,” said Wartburg President Darrel Colson. “We can’t even begin to measure the direct and indirect benefit of their gifts to a wide range of colleges and universities, including Wartburg, Luther and UNI.” 

At Wartburg, their gifts helped create the James A. Leach Chair in Banking and Monetary Economics and the Tomson Family Distinguished Chair in Social Work. More recently, they have supported scholarships for students enrolled in the Accelerated Ministry Program, a joint initiative of the college and Wartburg Theological Seminary that streamlines preparation for pastoral ministry. 

At Luther College, their gifts have established an endowed chair and faculty fellowships, while at St. Olaf College, their gifts created the Tomson Family Professor in Law and Economics. The college’s science center also is named in their honor. Most recently, their generosity advances the work of the Patricia A. Tomson Center for Violence Prevention at the University of Northern Iowa. 

Both are graduates of St. Olaf, and Pat went on to earn a Master of Social Work degree in 1986 from the University of Northern Iowa. O. Jay, who had a long career in community banking, serves as chairman of First Citizens Financial Corporation in Mason City. He served on the Wartburg College Board of Regents from 1989 to 1998 and was a member and former chair of the St. Olaf Board of Regents. He also served on the Luther Seminary Foundation Board of Trustees. Pat is a retired family therapist and active community volunteer. Before entering private social work practice, she was employed by Lutheran Social Services, the Mason City Family YMCA, and as executive director of the First Citizens Bank Charitable Foundation. 

Beyond Lutheran initiatives, their family foundation supports numerous charitable, religious, educational, and health care institutions serving northern Iowa, with a special focus on the education and welfare of young people. In 2016, the Tomsons were recognized by the Council of Independent Colleges for a lifetime of philanthropy and in 2018 received the ALDE Spirit of Giving Award. The couple also received the prestigious St. Olav Medal in 2006 and the Wartburg Medal in 2012. 

The couple resides in Mason City and have three daughters: Kris, Marti and Sara. 

The Graven Award, now in its 32nd year, honors one “whose life is nurtured and guided by a strong sense of Christian calling and who is making a significant contribution to community, church and society.” It is named for the late Judge Henry N. and Helen T. Graven of Greene, whose lives reflected those same commitments. 






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