Leaving a Legacy: Years of Planning and Generosity come to Fruition
December 13, 2022
“Don’t worry about how much or how little, it is an honor just to give.”
This was the sentiment of the late Vicki Lembcke shortly before her husband, Master Builder Chris Lembcke (Colorado State 67), passed away Oct. 22, 2016. At the time, Chris suffered from Parkinson’s disease and his health and speech were rapidly declining. Vicki said the gifts she and Chris had given and pledged to the FarmHouse Foundation were healing for her and she wanted Chris to be remembered for doing something meaningful for the Fraternity, which was so important to him.
Prior to their deaths, Chris and Vicki first pledged a $250,000 estate gift to support an endowment for chapter housing needs in 2006 as a part of Campaign 2005, the Foundation’s first capital campaign. In 2013, during the Live. Learn. Lead.—Campaign for FarmHouse, they added another very generous $250,000 to their bequest commitment for scholarships, leadership training and housing, for a total of $500,000.
Sadly, Vicki passed away May 19, 2022. In September, the FarmHouse Foundation received a check from their estate to honor their wishes and fulfill their very generous estate commitment. Notably, it is the largest estate gift in the Foundation’s history.
The Lembckes’ transformational estate gift of $500,000 has been designated as: $150,000 to establish an endowment fund to award academic scholarships to FarmHouse undergraduates from any chapter; $300,000 for an endowment fund to provide funding for chapter housing loans and educational grants to FarmHouse Associations; and $50,000 for an endowment fund to provide funding for the Fraternity’s leadership conferences.
When Chris and Vicki’s gift arrived, Foundation executive director and CEO, Allison Rickels said, “Chris and Vicki made their initial estate plans for the Foundation over 16 years ago, and it was a joy for Bob Off (Colorado State 64), retired Fraternity and Foundation executive director, and me to work with them over the years on their vision for their philanthropy. The Lembckes were a wonderful couple, had generous hearts and a deep passion for FarmHouse. It is truly incredible what foresight, planning, generosity and leaving a legacy can do for the future.”
She added, “We now have a permanent way to remember them, honor transformational generosity and live out their wishes of helping FarmHouse members achieve excellence through housing, leadership and scholarship opportunities. We are deeply grateful to Chris and Vicki who cared so deeply about FarmHouse. They left the ultimate gift and their legacy that we will remember forever.”
Remembering Chris & Vicki
They first met as sophomores at Colorado State University (CSU) through one of Chris’ FarmHouse brothers. Throughout college, FarmHouse played a major role in their campus life and friendships.
After graduation in 1969, they married in 1970 and remained in the Fort Collins area. Chris and Vicki purchased a farm outside of town where they raised Registered-Angus cattle. In the early 1990s, they also started breeding and showing Australian Shepherds. They did not have children of their own, so they considered FarmHouse undergraduates their sons.
Chris stayed active with the CSU Chapter by joining the local association. Involved with the CSU Association for over four decades, Chris served as president and vice president for numerous years as well as a chapter advisor.
In 1980, Chris raised his hand to get involved with FarmHouse beyond the CSU Chapter. He was elected to serve on the Fraternity’s International Executive Board for two terms, from 1980-1988. Chris was instrumental in encouraging the Fraternity to join the North American Interfraternity Conference (NIC) in the mid-1980s, the trade association that represents 54 men’s fraternities.
Bob once said about Chris’s involvement, “After attending an interfraternal meeting to consider joining the NIC, Chris and I determined that FarmHouse could not afford to not be a member. Chris took the lead and was successful in convincing the rest of the Fraternity Board.”
Bob added, “Chris and Vicki have always been big picture people. This was further evidenced by their leadership in the Fraternity’s consideration of the role of women in the organization in the early 1980s. Members of the Fraternity during that era may recall that it was the 1984 Conclave which approved the establishment of an agriculture-related women’s fraternity, Ceres Fraternity. In 1985, the first chapter chartered at Colorado State University. Both Chris and Vicki served as advisors to the chapter in its early years. The group has since closed, but not for lack of every effort by the Lembckes.”
While Chris and Vicki were actively involved with the Fraternity, they began donating to the Foundation starting in 1980. “The Foundation was a way to give back to something that has given so much to Chris and me,” Vicki said in 2017. “It was the right thing to do. Everything that the Foundation does is important, but the most important thing to me is what they do on a day-to-day basis. They are always looking to the future with the undergraduates’ best interests in mind and have done a phenomenal job of raising money. It is important to keep programs going for undergraduates so that they can have the same experiences Chris and many other FarmHouse men have had.”
Because of his outstanding and dedicated service, Chris was named a Master Builder of Men in 2006, the Fraternity’s highest honor bestowed upon an alumnus.
Bob recalled in a Pearls & Rubies article in 2009, “At a breakfast during Conclave in 2006, Chris and Vicki began to talk to me about their desire to do something lasting for the Fraternity in their estate plan. Little did I know how their plans would transpire. The Lembckes planned gift matches very well the long-term goals of the Fraternity and Foundation, and will be a lasting legacy of their generous gifts of their time, talent and treasure across the years.”
In 2017 Vicki said, “I encourage anyone involved with FarmHouse to leave something to honor the future generations of FarmHouse men like we did. Don’t worry about how much or how little, it is an honor just to give. Any amount will make a difference in building the leaders of tomorrow.”
We are incredibly grateful and humbled they did, and for their life-long devotion to FarmHouse.