Chester and Helen Carkoski Endowment

Chester and Helen Carkoski Endowment

The purpose of this scholarship is to commemorate the lives of Chester Adam and Helen Eudora Smith Carkoski. Chet was born April 4, 1905, in Valley County, Nebraska, After graduating from high school in Ord, Nebraska, where he was a successful football player, he was recruited to the University of Nebraska to play football. At the University, he discovered he had a heart murmur which caused him to change course and coached for the University Agriculture team until he graduated.

He was then hired to coach and teach in Hartington, Nebraska, where he met Helen who was also a first year teacher in the high school. Chet coached many successful football and basketball teams and eventually became principal and superintendent of the Hartington Public Schools for 21 years. He was so loved and respected by the students, the teachers and town residents, that several years after Helen and Chet left Hartington to come to Mankato, Hartington named the field where his teams played was named "Carkoski Field " in his honor.

Chet was excited to come to Mankato in 1960 and relate to a different group of students as Counseling Coordinator which included overseeing student housing/residential life. To better understand and know the students, Chet and Helen decided to live in the apartment in Crawford Center along with their son. who was in high school. (Their daughter was attending the University of Nebraska.) During the next few years the student housing profession was developed quickly and in constant change. Chet was a leader in the movement and had many stories to tell related to students and their experiences in residence halls. During this time Helen worked at the front desk in the center. They both developed close and lasting relationships with many of the students.

When it came time for Chet to retire as Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Housing in 1973, he and Helen decided to stay in Mankato and moved into an apartment in the Old Main Residential facility which was the location of his first office when he came to Mankato. They were both thrilled and honored in 1992 when the dining and activities area for the Crawford McElroy residence halls where students gather to meet, talk and eat was named “Carkoski Commons”. That seemed consistent with the way the Carkoskis liked to interact and entertain the students.

Prior to Chet and Helen’s deaths 1994, they started a scholarship to recognize and award outstanding residence hall leaders. An endowment, which regularly receives contributions in their memory, now makes it possible to give two scholarships annually to outstanding residence hall leaders. To date ? students have received the Carkoski Scholarship.

Chet and Helen and their son, who died before them, are buried in Calvary Cemetery in Mankato. In 2004 “Chet’s Place” was dedicated and has become another place where students gather. They both left a lasting impact on the campus and many students who cherish their memory.