9/23/2016 1:24:00 PM $1 million donation from Weinels to fund scholarships at RHS
by Ken Haggerty
Jim and Sharon Weinel have set up a $1 million endowment to fund scholarships for Randolph High School graduates who are interested in pursuing studies in engineering.
The endowment was announced by Randolph Superintendent Mike Kelley at the district's September 19 meeting. Kelley said the district is dumbfounded by the generosity of the gift and the graciousness and humble manner in which the gift was made.
Kelley said the Weinels passed on having a ceremony to announce the gift or even to appear at the board meeting for a photo opportunity.
The Weinels have instructed that the scholarship be named in honor of Jim's parents, Dan and Gladys Weinel.
The $1 million gift is deposited and in place. It will be managed by a professional philanthropic organization. Interest from the endowment (at a 4-5% return, an estimated $40,000 to $50,000 per year) will be used to fund scholarships for Randolph High School graduates pursuing a degree in Engineering at a University ranked in the top 50 by U.S. News and World Report. The philanthropic organization will work with the Friends of Randolph Scholars in awarding scholarship money.
Jim Weinel grew up in Randolph and graduated from Randolph High School in 1951. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with an engineering degree and worked in aerospace engineering with Sheldahl out of Northfield. He married Sharon in 1956 and in 1963 they founded Gemini, Inc. in a rented garage with a pile of debt. The company specialized in plastics, establishing its niche in making letters for signs.
Starting from scratch, Jim and Sharon guided the company through a period of tremendous growth. Based out of Cannon Falls, Gemini, Inc., still family-owned, is a worldwide leader in the wholesale manufacture of dimensional letters, logos and plaques, and custom plastic sheet extrusion. They manufacture in 20 plants throughout the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
Gemini will continue to make available the Ross Wagner Scholarship which provides a full-ride scholarship to students majoring in engineering from schools in communities where Gemini has plants and from Randolph and Howard, S.D. (hometown of Sharon Weinel).
Gemini has also been very active in supporting endowed chairs at the University of Minnesota and the University of Cincinnati, the Mayo Clinic, and multiple employee-directed donations. This past year they made a commitment to the support of equipment and programs for the study of robotics and high tech welding and manufacturing at Cannon Falls High School.