Legacy Circle News: Erika Asten

We are pleased and grateful to announce a very generous bequest to the Anthroposophical Society in America from the estate of a dear bearer of anthroposophy, Erika V. Asten. Erika crossed the threshold on May 5th, 2018, shortly before her 90th birthday. She had been a music teacher in Berlin with a PhD in musicology, then for ten years a public broadcaster, then a class teacher at the Detroit Waldorf School. She joined the Society in 1968 and was a member of the School for Spiritual Science, a Class holder, and member of the Social Sciences Section. General Council chair Dave Alsop recalled that “Erika was wonderfully formal and informal. I always felt respect for her and from her, the beautiful soul that she was.” And Hannah Schwartz said, “Erika was a bridger. She loved Camphill but understood the importance of the Anthroposophical Society. She made the connection between Camphill and the Society, and knew it was time to come together. She was a person who had a vision of connectedness .”

Erika V. Asten

Erika was married to Dietrich Asten, ASA general secretary from 1962 to 1974. He was described in the Journal for Anthroposophy by Stephen Usher as “a man filled with energy, dynamism, and a great sense of humor [who] combined in his person an American businessman, a European, and a deep student of Anthroposophy.” Christopher Schaefer wrote: “He lived a modest life and shared his wealth gener­ously, and his philanthropic work was truly extensive… Dietrich, along with a few other individuals, made a huge difference to the expansion and success of anthroposophical work in the United States.”

Dietrich Asten

After his death in 1984, Erika carried on their philanthropic work through the Rudolf Steiner Charitable Trust and many other activities. With this bequest she has made an important contribution to the long-range development of the Anthroposophical Society in America. It is an honor and significant responsibility to steward such a visionary gift.

The General Council and Leadership Team are close to completing a strategic plan directed toward our centenary in 2023 and beyond. To this end, planned giving, as in Erika’s case and our Legacy Circle, make possible new initiatives that can raise the level of regular operating income and expand services to members and the world. These gifts are important reminders of the importance of staying connected to the intentions of members who have crossed the threshold.

The General Council has a policy on legacy gifts aimed at creating sustainable advances in the Society’s work. Such gifts are already beginning to build further capacity, toward strategic goals and enhancing programs. Gifts large and small have been made to the Society by members through planned giving. We encourage anyone interested in considering this approach to contact Deb Abrahams-Dematte (deb@anthroposophy.org) for more information about the Legacy Circle.

Erika was well known in the anthroposophical movement and beyond for her thoughtful and generous giving. This generous bequest will support continuing development of the Society’s and members’ work for many years into the future.


  1. Heide Ratliff on February 26, 2020 at 3:50 pm

    Grateful for Erika’s and Dietrich’s vision and generosity. Have had the pleasure and gift of knowing and appreciating Erika personally, Heide Ratliff

  2. Rachel Kanaan on February 27, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    So wonderful to see new life brought into the society.

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