John and Janet Desmond

Honoring a Legacy of Hard Work and Perseverance

HTC Foundation receives $10,000 donation from the John E. and Janet C. Desmond Foundation

Thanks to the hard work and generous spirit of John and Janet Desmond, Hennepin Technical College students will now benefit from a $10,000 donation to be used for scholarships at the college. Jan Desmond, whose Tom Thumb Donuts were a staple of the Minnesota State Fair, died in 2013, at the age of 97. Her husband, John, preceded her in death. The John E. and Janet C. Desmond Foundation was established in 2003.

“Jan dealt with adversity all her life and thought it was important to help students who were dealing with adversity and who needed some help in funding their education,” says Ernie Lindstrom, a member of the board of directors of the John E. and Janet C. Desmond Foundation. Lindstrom and board members Bob Everett and Rod Beltz hope that the scholarships highlight the importance of perseverance in achieving success, as exemplified by the Desmonds’ lives.

Jan Desmond was born in Chicago in 1916; her mother died when she was two years old and she was raised by her grandmother. At the age of six, Desmond was accidentally shot by a 14-year old neighbor and was not expected to survive. However, she lived to the age of 97, with the bullet still in her. In the 1950s, she ran a bakery in Minneapolis and was searching for an item to sell in hot weather, when fewer people wanted cakes and large donuts. That’s when the mini donut was born, becoming a hit at county fairs in Wisconsin and Iowa, as well as the Minnesota State Fair. Tragedy struck in 1960 when her first husband, Charles Hansen, died when the donut trailer collapsed while he was working under it. Two years later, she married John Desmond and they worked together to expand the business.

For Jan Desmond, mini donuts were more than a business. She had no children, so the young people she and her husband hired to work at the donut stands became like family, with relationships that endured for decades. In 2004, she transferred the business to two longtime workers, Bob Everett and Rod Beltz, who are directors of the Desmond Foundation.

“We are grateful for this generous donation, which will make a real difference in the lives of our students,” says Annette Roth, executive director of institutional advancement at Hennepin Technical College. “The scholarships made possible by the Desmond Foundation will provide individuals with an opportunity for career training as they work toward a successful future.”  

With hard work, perseverance, and a generous spirit, the Desmonds built a successful business and nurtured the young people they hired. Now the Desmond Foundation continues that legacy. 

Tom Thumb Donuts Sign

Last updated by jhanson : 2015-03-09 16:17:02