Donors are the heart of WCCF
Learn more about our donors and partners and the positive impact their efforts are having on communities in western Colorado.
Profiles in Philanthropy – Some of Our Donors
Dave Armlovich is happy doing just about anything outdoors – hiking, biking, skiing and kayaking. He worked for 35 years for the U.S. Forest Service, living in many different places and transferring to the Delta office in 2001. He loves the landscapes and recreation opportunities of western Colorado and jokes, “this place is the last stop on my journey.” Although a young and active retiree, Dave wanted to get his affairs in order. Working with the Community Foundation, he developed a three-part legacy plan that mirrors his professional and personal interests. Some of his funds are earmarked for scholarships for Loving the Outdoors Delta Outdoorsman Plans His Legacy “I strongly believe that helping others should be a part of everyone’s life. I’ve done well in my career. Since I have a strong interest in the outdoors and protecting the environment, programs that get kids outdoors to learn and play are important to me.” Delta County students to study natural resources management or other environmental subjects. Some of his funds will support programs that promote outdoor education and recreation. He has also made provisions to fund favorite national organizations he supported in his lifetime.
Tillman and Pat Bishop Scholarship Fund
Long-time community leader Tillie Bishop passed in the summer of 2019 at the age of 86. Many hundreds of people attended a memorial service for Tillie hosted by CMU. Appropriate tribute was paid to his many legislative accomplishments and his huge commitment to higher education through his decades of service as Dean of Students at Mesa State College. Later in life he would serve on both the Colorado Mesa University Board of Trustees and on the University of Colorado Board of Regents. One slide shown at his memorial tried to capture the essence of this extraordinary man in four words: Statesman, Educator, Philanthropist, Coloradan. For those of us involved in the public service and nonprofit community, philanthropist is perhaps the most important descriptor.
The word “philanthropy” comes from the Latin, “love of man.” Tillie Bishop was indeed a philanthropist. Certainly generous with his money, Tillie also gave – in a huge way – of his time and expertise to many. The range of organizations and causes Tillie supported in this community was extraordinary, from the Legends Sculpture Project and Great Outdoors Colorado and wildlife preservation (Tilman Bishop State Wildlife Area in Palisade) to his many education interests including Rocky Mountain PBS, D51 Foundation and vocational training at the WCCC Tilman Bishop Campus (“Tillie Tech”). Tillie was one of the local community leaders who was visited by our Community Foundation founders, Herb Bacon and Pat Gormley, in the early days of our start up. Tillie’s wife, Pat, remembers the meeting in their living room and Tillie’s excitement about the promise and potential of a local community foundation. The Bishops established an endowed fund in their name in 2011 and were steady donors to our foundation. Our Community Foundation is one of several foundations included in the Bishops’ estate plans. Tillie loved “being in the room where things happened,” facilitating new projects and policies and legislation – new deals that would create positive change to benefit others across the state of Colorado. He indeed put into action his strong belief in serving others and a deep love of mankind. We remember him here: statesman extraordinaire and champion of education, good friend of the community, and a very special philanthropist.
Genevieve Clough Scholarship Fund
A Chance to Succeed
Genevieve Clough was a big champion of education, especially for young people who may not have ever considered going to college. Family friend and WCCF board member Tom Stuver remembers Genevieve’s passion for education. “Her motivation was, from the beginning, ‘a chance to succeed.’ That was the theme for the program. She really wanted to help students who may not have thought vocational or college programs were available to them.”
Genevieve donated a significant estate gift to capitalize her scholarship program, ensuring that students will have access to scholarships for years to come. A close partnership between the Western Colorado Community Foundation and the Colorado Mountain College (CMC) Foundation, the scholarship program is designed to support graduating seniors from Coal Ridge High School in Silt, Grand Valley High School in Parachute, and Rifle High School, all located in western Garfield County. Established in 2008, the scholarship program has supported well over 100 students in its first six years. Genevieve’s generous spirit and hopes for students to attain higher education live on through the special legacy she has created.
Mary Beth and Bernie Buescher Charitable Giving Fund
Long-time donor advisors, Bernie and Mary Beth Buescher, celebrated their joint 70th birthdays by giving gifts to others. The Bueschers, on reviewing their estate plans, realized something: The charitable gifts they intended to make in
their wills were already outdated, and a question arose: Why wait? Why not make donations now? Their four children are all established and doing well, and lots of their favorite organizations need resources to pursue new programs now. The Bueschers felt blessed to be able to make some bigger grants to the nonprofits they care about so much. We are blessed to have such a couple in our community. The Bueschers felt that the real gift was getting to see the smiles on people’s faces. Their hearts for others are extraordinary, and they serve as an inspiration to others to share their wealth with those who are less fortunate. What a great way for generous people to celebrate a big birthday!
The Buescher Charitable Giving Fund has supported many organizations, including a handful of local nonprofits and Denver organizations such as The Colorado Children’s Campaign, Invest In Kids, and Colorado Public Radio. In addition to these one-time birthday gifts, the Bueschers have made provisions in their wills for end-of-life gifts to our Community Grants Fund to respond to current needs, with an emphasis on early childhood education and literacy. As Mary Beth put it, “We’ve been so impressed with how much the Community Foundation is doing to address community issues like hunger, drug addiction and suicide. We want them to have some unrestricted dollars to meet whatever needs there are to be tackled when we are gone.”
If you were to ask Rifle resident Lulu Colby about her interests, she would respond with one word: bats. Lulu’s fascination with the nocturnal radar-flying creatures is obvious; through her of the Bat World Sanctuary in Texas and study to become a chiroptera (bat) rehabilitator. In addition, she also loves birds, cats, dogs, and all sorts of other animals. Her life has been full of ranching, tending sheep and 16 years of nomadic goat herding to manage vegetation across the West. With her decision to expand and localize her philanthropy, she established Colby’s Fund to organize her giving. Her donor-advised fund lets her manage her charitable giving easily and efficiently. Lulu has made provisions in her will for the Community Foundation to continue supporting her favorite charitable interests. Her love of animals reminds us that care for others can start small – even with a bat.
Conrado Family Fund
An Intergenerational Commitment to Giving Back
The Conrado Family has deep roots in Meeker, CO. Both Joe and Kelly Conrado were born and raised in Meeker, and they have built a successful business together and raised their family there. The family spirit is very community orientated; Joe has served on the school board, the fire department, and his church and now two generations are involved in the family business. The Conrados decided to create a family fund with the Western Colorado Community Foundation in order to improve their community and engage their children in philanthropy.
Joe notes, “We love western Colorado. We’ve lived here all our lives, raised our children here, and built a thriving family business. We have supported a number of projects and organizations benefiting our community over the years. We wanted to set up something perpetual that would continue to help our community and would involve our kids in giving back. An endowed fund at the Western Colorado Community Foundation allows us to do that easily.”
Bruce Dixson Fund
Charitable Legacy of an Entrepreneur and Philanthropist
Longtime Grand Junction resident Bruce Dixson may not have had a dull moment in all his 93 years. An entrepreneur all his life, Bruce did a lot of interesting things during his lifetime. He worked in aeronautics during World War II inventing navigational devices, started a business out of his garage that would become Dixson Inc., took up golf in his fifties, and designed and built his own log cabin on Pinyon Mesa at the age of 79. He was highly successful in business ventures and provided his expertise and financial support to various community organizations, among them the Salvation Army where he served on the board for over three decades. He established the Bruce Dixson Fund to support a number of basic needs and other human service organizations. His fund also provides financial support for start-up nonprofits looking to fill unmet needs – a tribute to his entrepreneurial spirit.
Bruce’s legacy is one of quietly and thoughtfully giving back to the community. He was instrumental to the growth and development of the Western Colorado Community Foundation, serving on the board, providing innovative thinking and financial support for various initiatives at critical points in our organization’s history. He was always drawn to new ideas and he approached philanthropy as he would investing – investing in people to help them improve their situations, and investing in organizations he believed in to help them “grow to the next level.”
Cook Veterans Memorial Fund
Honoring Those who Served
The West Garfield Veterans Memorial at Deerfield Park in Rifle, CO holds special meaning for Jerry Cook, a lifelong resident of the town. Among the many soldiers that the memorial pays tribute to are Jerry’s grandfather, who served in the Civil War, and several of Jerry’s relatives, including his brother and nephews. Jerry is also a veteran, having served in the Korean War.
In order to honor family members and local residents who served our country, Jerry established an endowment fund to make sure the memorial is maintained and improved, memorializing veterans for generations to come. Jerry notes, “So many of my family are named and honored out there, I wanted to be sure the memorial was well- maintained for future generations, as an honor and tribute to my family members and others who have served.” Jerry’s gift will ensure that veterans are remembered for their service for years to come.
Kids Giving Fund
Inspiring Young People to Help Those in Need
When Alice McCary learned that she was a lucky winner of a $10,000 drawing, she could not believe her good fortune. Once the news set in, she realized what she needed to do with the funds – invest in her community. “There are so many people and charities with big needs that I realized pretty quickly that I don’t really need this money,” said Alice.
A teacher at Tope Elementary in Grand Junction, Alice realized how the funds could enrich her students and help the community. She established the Kids Giving Fund, where students learn about community needs and design a service project to meet basic needs, including food, clothing and shelter. Students apply for funding through the Kids Giving Fund and win a matching grant of up to $500 to be awarded to the recipient nonprofit organization delivering the services. When Alice created the fund, an anonymous donor came forward and matched the original contribution, furthering the impact that students have on their community.
The Kids Giving Fund has enabled students to learn about the various needs around them and grants have been made to a number of organizations, including the Agape Food Bank, Catholic Outreach, and the Kids Aid Backpack Program.
Don Milham Recovery Fund
Stepping out of Addiction
Don Milham faced many challenges in life, with alcoholism being chief among them. At a young age, he saw his parents turn to alcohol and began to head down the same path. In his mid-thirties he discovered the Alano Club and began attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, which he credits with turning his life around. His wife, Sharron, notes, “Don believed the Alano Club saved his life. They helped him get sober and stay sober.”
Don was so influenced by his experience with the Alano Club that he went on to become an addictions counselor, dedicating his life to supporting other alcoholics and their families. He and his wife founded Addiction Services Education and Treatment (ASET) Clinic in Grand Junction where he helped hundreds of people in their recovery. When Don passed away in 2008, the board dissolved the nonprofit and the assets were used to establish the Don Milham Recovery Fund, with all funds designated for the Alano Club of Grand Junction. The fund will be paid down over ten years, supporting the Alano Club and making grants on Don’s “sober birthday”, a fitting reminder and tribute to his perseverance and dedication to overcoming alcohol addiction and helping others.
Bill Patterson Scholarship Fund
Supporting High Achieving Students who want to make a Difference
When the Patterson family lost one of their children, Bill Patterson, at the age of 48 to a brain tumor, they decided to honor and remember him by establishing a scholarship fund in his name. Bill was an investor and philanthropist, working to better the community around him. He graduated from Grand Junction High School as class valedictorian in 1980. Donna Patterson notes, “GJHS provided the beginning of an amazing career, allowing our son, Bill, to distinguish himself in his profession and his personal life. To honor him, we are choosing to support local students as they seek to build a productive life.”
The Patterson family very much believes in the value of education. Donna explains the reasoning for establishing this scholarship, “Bill’s keen intellect and willingness to work hard allowed him to reach the highest levels in his profession… Our goal is to try to recognize similar traits in graduating high school seniors and to enhance their careers.” The Bill Patterson Scholarship is awarded annually to a student graduating from a Mesa County high school with a strong academic background and keen interest in pursuing science or environmental studies in college.
Evelyn and Glenn Haley Funds
The oldest of three sisters, Evelyn spent her childhood in Paonia and graduated from Paonia High School. While the majority of her life was spent in California, she moved back to western Colorado in 1999 to be closer to family. Evelyn lived a long and generous life, supporting numerous charities and projects including HopeWest, Rocky Mountain PBS, Conservation Colorado, Mesa County Library and Roice-Hurst. She first contacted our Community Foundation eleven years ago as she was getting her affairs in order.
In her estate plans, she made provision for the creation of three field-of-interest funds to support organizations that (1) serve victims of domestic abuse, neglected and disadvantaged women and girls; (2) enhance the arts and culture, education and literacy; and (3) care for homeless and neglected domestic pets. Evelyn cared deeply for others and her surviving sister was pleased to see Evelyn able to touch lives beyond her death.
Her generous legacy gift is especially appreciated as our Community Foundation has limited donor-directed funds for arts and culture programs. Evelyn’s husband, Glen, was a high school English teacher and he had written two novels; literacy and libraries were near and dear to his heart. Through their generosity, the couple will live on in the aspects of the community that mattered to them the most.
Dr. Perry Rasleigh was born in Kansas. Though he spent a large part of his life in Colorado by choice. He loved hiking, cross-country skiing, trout fishing. His family remembers, “he was hard to keep up with on the trail and in life.” A doctor by training, he specialized in dermatology and with a colleague founded Mountain West Dermatology. He loved teaching medical students through the St. Mary’s Family Physician Residency Program, which he did for 30 years. Dr. Rashleigh was also very involved in the community. Favorite charities included MarillacHealth and St. Mary’s Hospital; his wife, Rosemary, was a long-standing supporter of the Mesa County Library. Through his estate planning, Dr. Rasleigh made preparations to create an endowed field-of-interest fund. The Rashleigh Fund supports the donors’ favorite causes here in Mesa County: health care and clinics like Marillac and public library services.
Dorothy Ross Fund
Love to the Rescue: Promoting Health and Wellness for Children
A lifelong resident of western Colorado, Dorothy Ross passed away at the age of 90. Created in her name and to meet her charitable interests, the Dorothy Ross Fund was established in 2013 to support programs that ensure the well-being of children, especially their health care needs, in western Colorado and beyond.
Dorothy adored children. She and her husband were involved with Shriners Hospitals for Children, where children with special health care needs are treated. Dorothy created her legacy by leaving all of her assets to be used for charitable purposes. She chose Shriners Hospitals for Children and her congregation to be recipients of her generosity, along with the Western Colorado Community Foundation. The national slogan for Shriners is “Love to the Rescue”; this sentiment captures Dorothy’s philanthropic impulse. Her legacy will improve the well-being and health of children across our community for years to come.
Waldeck Endowment Fund
A Heart of Gold
Ellen Jo Waldeck found herself in a unique position and approached the Western Colorado Community Foundation with a rare opportunity. She wanted to give back to the community that she had called home for most of her 86 years and came to the foundation to learn how to transfer her assets. These assets were a company holding a mineral royalty interest that Jo wanted to see reinvested into her community. During the gift planning process with the foundation, she discussed her intentions, “I’m so pleased to be able to make this gift. I’ve been thinking for a while, what do I need all of this money for? I’ve had a good life and there are so many people out there with lots of needs. I wanted to set up something that would help. I know the Western Colorado Community Foundation will be around long after I’m gone and able to manage this gift in accordance with my intentions. I hope my gift inspires others to support the causes they most care about.”
Jo established the Waldeck Endowment Fund to support nursing scholarships at Colorado Mesa University, as well as to support eight different nonprofit organizations in Mesa County. She worked as a nurse at St. Mary’s Hospital during World War II and found it to be a fulfilling career choice. The Waldeck Endowment Fund provides a full scholarship to one nursing student each year. The fund also supports organizations that were of special importance to Jo and her family. One of the organizations, HopeWest, provided excellent end-of-life care for Jo’s husband Bill. Another organization, Roice-Hurst Humane Society is where the family’s beloved canine companion, Cheetoh, was adopted. Jo’s daughter, Susan Diaz, notes, “Mom has always had a very large heart for those who don’t have very much. My mom is leaving the world a better place…now and 50 and 100 years from now…”
When WCCF celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in February 2012, it picked a “hearts of gold” theme. Anniversary events were held across our region to celebrate a special spirit of giving, honoring community members who had been giving generously but quietly with their time and treasure to make their communities better places to live. Jo Waldeck exemplified the “heart of gold” spirit, giving and caring for others and investing in her community to make it a better place for generations to come.
Dave and Mary Wood Fund
Dave Wood was a long-time supporter of the Western Colorado Community Foundation, serving on the board of directors in its early years and being the first donor from outside Mesa County. Dave was instrumental in having the board establish an administrative endowment for our Community Foundation. A community banker, Dave understood well and embraced the concept of charitable endowments; by putting funds aside today and managing them to grow over time, earnings are generated to improve community organizations and initiatives year after year, for generations to come.
Dave and his wife Mary lived for many years in their home community of Ouray. They established a donor-advised fund during their lifetime, and then made a significant estate gift to that fund. Their three children now serve as donor advisors. The Woods loved music, especially opera. They were founders of the Ouray Performing Arts Guild and staunch supporters of the Music in Ouray chamber music series. Dave was a historian at heart, assisting in the restoration of the Wright Opera House and renovating the bank buildings in Ouray and Silverton to their original design. By putting aside funds today to care for organizations that need support in the future, the Woods are doing their part to preserve Ouray as the unique mountain community that it is and to support a number of organizations in western Colorado.
Willson Education Fund
In the Business of Educating Students
An adjunct professor in the Business Department at Colorado Mesa University for many years, Harry Willson discovered his passion for teaching over twenty years ago. He began his path in teaching at Utah Valley State College and joined Colorado Mesa University’s faculty in 2001, teaching courses in business management and marketing. Inspired to support graduating high school students, Harry established a scholarship fund to provide financial support to deserving students from Mesa and Delta Counties.
According to Harry, “college is a time of life when a young person becomes who he or she wants to be. It is a time of opportunity and growth. Higher education pays back in so many ways – both to the individual and our society as a whole.” Of creating the scholarship fund, Harry notes, “I wanted to do something worthwhile. I really believe in college education. It’s exciting to be able to help young people fulfill their potential.” The Willson Education Fund will help students achieve their academic and career goals, helping students find their own path.
Kathy Pippenger Scholarship Fund
The Kathy Pippenger Scholarship Fund was established to honor Kathy’s memory and spirit, an active community member who was unable to attend college herself. The scholarship supports Mesa County high school graduates who are interested in becoming a registered nurse, medical doctor or pursuing a career in engineering.
Students pursuing medicine will provide comfort and care to others, a fitting tribute to Kathy who not only battled cancer, but supported others going through the illness. Students pursuing engineering will extend their talent to serve the community; engineering held a special place for Kathy as both her husband and son are engineers. Kathy was a woman of tremendous courage, determination and faith.
Whether a student pursues excellence in healthcare or engineering, service to others is a strong component of the Kathy Pippenger Scholarship Fund.