Severson Dells Nature Center

named after engineer Harry Severson, former owner of property. Deer Lodge was built in 1952. Severson became President of Barber-Colman in 1952.  Severson died in 1957, his widow donated lodge and 369 acres to Winnebago County Forest Preserve

Source: Northwest Quarterly Magazine Summer 2008 Vol. 5 No. 2

Severson, Fannie B.

Severson, Fannie B. - civic

daughter of Jacob and Eliza Rupp, born in Fulton County, Ohio. Graduate of Goshen College, Goshen, IN., in 1912

married Samuel E. Zook, a teacher at Rockford Central High School

served as Executive Director of Red Cross at Camp Grant

In 1920 they moved to Akron, Ohio, where Zook died in 1929

“She resumed her teaching in Akron until 1933, when she married Harry Severson; he was president of Barber-Colman and an avid naturalist and philanthropist.”

“She and her husband were much interested in Rockford College.”  They donated Jewitt Science Hall on the old campus. Later when the campus moved to East State St., they donated Severson Auditorium in memory of their son, Robert D. Severson, who was killed in Germany in World War II.”

“She authored a book on the experiences of her sons, Robert and John, in the European Theater during the war. Robert was with the 78th Infantry Division and John was a bomber pilot with the 8th Air Force.”

“She donated a pipe organ to Goshen College in 1970, dedicated to her father. Jacob Rupp.  She wrote a second book dealing with her Mennonite heritage.”

“In 1974, through her church, she made a gift to the Heifer Project International, sending agricultural and technical aid to post-war Europe.”

“Her most recent gift was in March, 1975, when she donated her 370-acre property, “Deer Lodge,” on Montague Road to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve District. It has been named Harry A. and Fannie B. Severson Dells Forest Preserve. It is to be dedicated this year.”

Source: Rockford Morning Star January 20, 1976


Severson, Fannie B.

Severson, Fannie B - legacy

widow of Harry A. Severson, who was president and chairman of the board of Barber-Colman Co.

executive director of the Red Cross at Camp Grant, WWI

active in Rockford Woman’s Club, Rockford Children’s Home, served on YWCA board, active at Second Congregational Church, and Rockford Hospital Auxilliary.

With her husband donated lecture hall in old Rockford College building and Severson Auditorium on new Rockford College campus

“Last March, she donated her 370-acre property, Deer Lodge, to the Winnebago County Forest Preserve.”

Source: Rockford Register Republic January 21, 1976