Severne Banack’s memories flow easily as she recounts funny stories from her early career and talks about the family who purchased her home and who are now her friends. Her sweet smile and easy laugh call to mind a beloved grandma. But go just beyond the gentle manner of the unassuming 91-year-old and you’ll discover a self-reliant, independent thinker who was a bit of a pioneer in her day.
Severne’s career began after her marriage ended in the 1960s and she needed to support herself. “I felt like I was starting from scratch,” recalled Severne. Control Data had just begun offering classes in computer code so she signed up. “I met a lot of interesting people looking for a new start,” she said. “It was a real cross section – kind of a motley crew,” she added, laughing.
Severne went on to become a technical writer and after several decades of steady work, she scaled back and took a part-time job at her home parish, St. Therese’s in Deephaven, where she taught students in the school’s new computer lab.
In 2013, Severne began funding an endowment at the Catholic Community Foundation using required minimum distributions from her IRA. The endowment will allow her to support in perpetuity several charities that are dear to her. They include technology upgrades at St. Therese Catholic School; a memorial fund to honor her brother who was a firefighter for Elk River; the Guardian Angels Care Center where her mother died at the age of 107; the Arboretum Foundation where she volunteered for 17 years; and the Humane Society in remembrance of her many cherished pets.
After years of planning for her own financial security, Severne is modest about the accomplishment of funding an endowment. “I don’t feel rich, but I know I have more money than an awful lot of people,” she said.
She pauses as she reflects on her good fortune. “God’s been looking out for me an awful long time,” she mused. “I’m surprised He hasn’t grown tired of it yet,” she laughs.