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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
Herbert L. Bacon
Herb was one of a handful of community leaders who began conversations with Tim Schultz and the Boettcher Foundation in the mid-1990s about starting a Community Foundation “on this side of the Divide.” The vision was to build a home-grown charitable foundation for western Colorado – our own foundation – directed by local leaders and providing funding to local nonprofits who historically had to look to Denver and the Front Range foundations for grant support. Herb and his private family foundation were staunch supporters of our Community Foundation from the beginning. They helped launch a nonprofit training and support program (NSTAR) for our 10th anniversary. They provided generous funding for our 20th Anniversary Impact Fund several years ago. And they have funded a number of programs and project requests over the years related to our leadership work. Herb served on our Community Foundation board for six years and also got his daughter, Linda Bacon Reid, involved with the organization. While the Bacon family, through the Bacon Family Foundation, has been tremendously generous for decades in funding many worthwhile nonprofit programs and capital campaigns in our community, Herb’s generosity goes way beyond financial support. Herb was always a hands on philanthropist – serving on countless committees, heading up capital campaigns (always successful, because who could say “no” to Herb Bacon) and at the front of the line in terms of reflecting on community needs and solutions. One of the characteristics that distinguishes a community foundation from a private foundation is that a community foundation involves many different people, from all walks of life, and has enormous opportunity to grow in assets and impact because everyone in the community can participate. Herb was always very interested in the success of this type of organization.
Peter was one of our Community Foundation’s first donors from Eagle County. We appreciate his confidence in our organization in our start up years. A landscape architect by training and a transplant to Colorado from Vermont, Peter pursued a number of his long-time interests in the Vail Valley. He volunteered his time and gave countless hours to various land use planning projects: playground landscaping, increasing public access to trails and planting trees. He also enjoyed many outdoor activities in retirement – skiing, hiking, fishing. His donor advised fund supports lots of great organizations, including the Eagle Valley Land Trust and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Wyoming.
Mike and Debbie Berry Fund (for Kids' Aid)
Over ten years ago, Mike Berry founded the Kids Aid Backpack Program after an encounter with a crying child who was hungry. Moved to do something to address childhood hunger, he started delivering Friday backpacks with food supplies to last a child through the weekend. The program grew quickly from 40 children at one school site to 2,000 weekly bags of weekend food distributed through every school in D51. The board of Kids Aid surprised Mike at his retirement party with the creation of a permanent endowment in his and his wife’s honor. Their work continues, collaborating with other hunger relief organizations in the Valley to bring an end to the days when a child has to dread the end of school because it also means an end to regular meals.
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.
Roy and Pamela Blythe
As a young man, Roy Blythe went off to college hoping to become a teacher and a coach. He discovered architecture along the way and became a registered professional architect instead. Fast forward four decades, Roy and his wife Pamela founded Blythe Group + co, a local architecture, interior design and project management company. Their firm has been involved in dozens of renovation and new school construction projects across the District. The couple is personally committed to supporting public education. Over a decade ago, Roy heard about the model of a public education foundation in Eagle County that raised private funds to support public education. He wanted to try a similar approach here. Many meetings and incorporation documents later, the D51 Foundation was formed. Notes Roy, “our school system is an integral and critical institution in our community. Those teachers work so hard to educate their students – both in academic subjects and as citizens of our community. We know our school district has limited funds and we hoped to find ways to involve the larger community in supporting the work of our teachers and district administrators.” On the occasion of D51 Foundation’s 10th anniversary in February, Roy and Pamela surprised guests at the annual fundraiser dinner by presenting Angela Christensen with a significant endowment donation. The Blythes explained, “we always planned to leave an end-of-life donation to benefit D51 Foundation but we realized, why not do it now and invite other people who care about public education to join us in promoting the mission of the D51 Foundation and building an endowment for long-term funding support?” The Blythes have established the Roy and Pamela Blythe Fund for D51 Foundation. Their generous donation is so appreciated and fitting for a couple who has committed years of their lives to a cause near and dear to their hearts, working tirelessly on behalf of the students and staff of D51 to enhance and expand learning opportunities.
Bray Cares Fund
Over the past 75 years, three generations of the Bray family have built a successful real estate/property management/development business. The company has always been committed to giving back to the local community. Both through financial support of many different nonprofit organizations and encouraging their employees to volunteer. They recently chose to take their community giving to a new level. Robert Bray recently announced the formation of the Bray Cares Foundation, an endowed, donor-advised fund managed by our Community Foundation.
“Over the years, our company has contributed to a variety of organizations here in the community. We think it is time to focus our efforts a little more and increase both our funding and our leadership in the area of housing-related needs in Mesa County.” The tag line for the new Bray Cares Foundation is “Supporting our HOME Community.” Anne Wenzel worked with Robert Bray and Lynn Thompson to define their grantmaking criteria for the new foundation. “Their focus is very appropriate and much needed in our community. Bray is a successful local company, recognized in the community for selling homes. How wonderful for them to give back to the agencies in our community who help those who struggle to keep a roof over their heads.” Bray Cares Foundation will support a variety of different projects that provide emergency shelter, affordable housing, housing for special needs populations, services to help seniors stay in their homes and rent assistance.
Brownson Memorial Fund
Born and raised in Grand Junction, Gus Brownson loves his hometown community. Over the years he has watched a number of family members and friends struggle with addictions. It seemed natural for Gus to get involved with the Brownson Memorial Fund when his good friend Jim Robb invited him to join the board back in 2003. Gus’ father, Thomas Brownson, was very involved with Bridge House, a social services program for people with addictions. He served as chairman of its board for nine years. When the direct service program closed and redirected its assets to grantmaking in 1985, the new foundation was named the Thomas T. Brownson Bridge House Memorial Fund (aka the Brownson Memorial Fund). In 2006, the foundation transferred its assets to the Western Colorado Community Foundation for management. Gus has served as secretary and treasurer of the organization for over a decade and takes an active interest in the organizations they fund working in drug and alcohol abuse prevention and treatment. “I’ve been fortunate in my lifetime and it’s time for me to give back. Alcohol and substance abuse are such huge problems in our community. This organization focuses exclusively on funding these types of programs.” Gus has named Western Colorado Community Foundation and the Brownson Memorial Fund as the charitable beneficiary of his IRA account.
“It’s simple to leave a gift to the community to support something you care about when you are gone. Retirement assets can be taxed heavily when they transfer to heirs. I decided I wanted to leave a legacy for something I care a lot about – helping people who are struggling with addictions.”
The Brownson name is highly recognized in Grand Junction and especially on the Colorado Mesa University campus, where students, faculty/staff, and community members all visit the Brownson Arena to enjoy basketball, volleyball, and wrestling tournaments as well as graduation and other special events. Many students on campus benefit from the generous athletic scholarships endowed by Phyllis and her late husband, Bruce (“Bud”), both strong supporters of scholarships and athletics at CMU. Less well known but another important aspect of the family’s charitable legacy is the Bud and Phyllis Brownson Fund, an endowed donor-advised fund managed by our Community Foundation. Bud and Phyllis were amongst our first donors, setting up their fund in 1999 at the suggestion of their friend and long-time accountant, Wes Wendland. Phyllis was a loyal and steady donor to the Community Foundation over the past two decades. Phyllis had broad charitable interests but favorite local nonprofits included the Brownson Memorial Fund (which makes grants for substance abuse prevention and treatment), Colorado Discover Ability, Wounded Warriors, and shelter programs like HomewardBound and Karis the House. Her oldest son, Sandy, and his daughter, Laura, have been helping Phyllis in recent years with her annual giving and will take over as advisors for the Bud and Phyllis Brownson Fund. Phyllis Brownson and her family are strong advocates for using the Community Foundation for their family giving and for supporting favorite causes.
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.”
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.
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
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.”
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.
Bob and Kate Denning Fund
Long-time local businessman, civic leader, talented musician, and founder of our Community Foundation, Bob Denning passed away in late 2013 at the age of 82. Bob’s lifelong community-mindedness and interest in organized philanthropy was much influenced by his beloved sister. Barbara Denning Finberg worked for decades in organized philanthropy, the first woman in a senior executive position at Carnegie Corporation of New York. When Grand Junction community leaders came together in the mid 1990s to discuss the idea of launching a community foundation here, with initial support and seed funding from the Boettcher Foundation, Bob was right there at the ground floor. He was part of the committee to write articles of incorporation and served as the founding chairman of our Community Foundation’s board of directors. Long-time friend and fellow Rotarian, Pat Gormley remembers Bob’s contributions to our Community Foundation in the early years. “He had excellent business acumen. He was always very positive and upbeat about the concept of the community foundation. His leadership gave us a great deal of credibility in our early years and helped forge important relationships, before people really understood what we were about. This made a huge difference in getting the Western Colorado Community Foundation launched.” Bob served on our board of directors for two terms and stayed involved as a member of our Community Grants Committee for many years. Several years before he passed away, Bob Denning and his wife Kate established The Denning Fund for the Avalon Renovation Project at the Community Foundation. A violin and viola player for decades with the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, Bob and his fellow musicians dreamed of a state-of-the-art venue and stage for orchestral music and other musical arts in Grand Junction. He was an early supporter of the Historic Avalon Theater renovation project, Foundations by the Council on Foundations and was especially interested in the proposed expanded stage and acoustical enhancements that would make this venue fitting for the orchestra he so loved.
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.”
Ed and Frannie Ellinwood Fund (aka the County Croaker Fund)
Ed Ellinwood began his career as a family practice doctor in Uravan where he was tagged with an endearing nickname, “the country croaker.” Slang for doctor, a croaker is known as someone who could help out with medical advice and prescriptions in a pinch. Doc Ellinwood helped establish and then served for many years as the first director of the Family Practice Residency Program at St. Mary’s Hospital, a specialized training program for physicians interested in rural medicine. He was also one of the founding members of Rocky Mountain Health Plans. Attracting physicians to serve as family practice doctors in rural areas has been a difficult problem for years. This legacy fund established by his friends and colleagues will provide funding for the Family Practice Residency Program for special projects to improve training for the residents.
Farley Family Fund
The Farley family’s tradition of philanthropy started back in the 1950s when Grandfather John B. Farley established a private foundation to support math and science programs in the Catholic schools of Pueblo. His son, Tom, focused his philanthropic support on wildlife and environmental issues, getting involved with the re-introduction of moose in Colorado. “Our family has always been charitably inclined, working on things that interest us as individuals but very committed to helping others and giving back,” notes Kathy Farley. When Kathy’s husband passed away several years ago, she and her son, Fr. John Farley, pastor of IHM Catholic Church in Grand Junction, decided to commit some of the Farley estate to two donor-advised funds at community foundations to keep the family tradition of philanthropy going. One fund was established at the Southern Colorado Community Foundation in Pueblo, which Kathy had helped found and served as its first director. Another donor-advised fund has been set up at the Western Colorado Community Foundation. Family members of three generations are integral to identifying projects and determining grants for this fund.
Ruth and Pat Gormley Fund
Pat Gormley was one of those people who was incredibly rooted in his home community. A third-generation Mesa County local, longtime community banker, actively involved in the rebirth of Downtown Grand Junction through the creation of the Downtown Development Authority and the Operation Foresight Main Street redevelopment project, Pat was the epitome of a community leader. When WCCF celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2007, Pat was awarded the “Don’t Have to Read the Sentinel Award” in recognition of his well-acknowledged ability to know everything going on in the community. Many people regarded Pat as the unofficial historian of Mesa County, boasting membership and active involvement in our Museum of Western Colorado and the Mesa County Historical Society. But Pat was equally forward-looking, involved in many important community institutions including St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation and its Century Project, the Colorado Riverfront Commission and its trail system, and the renovation of the Avalon Theatre. Pat’s involvement with organized philanthropy was extraordinary. A long-time friend of Herb Bacon, Pat served on the board of the Bacon Family Foundation for decades; he was the only non-family member to serve in that role for one of our community’s most generous private foundations. He was involved with St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation and the Wayne Aspinall Foundation (providing scholarships for CMU), staying active on these boards until the end of his life. And Pat was a founder and original board member for our regional Community Foundation. A historian through interest and study, Pat Gormley was also a futurist and community planner – using his business expertise, access to financing and community connections to make dozens of new projects happen. His involvement with our start-up community foundation was just one of his many interests and projects. Pat and his wife Ruth have an endowed donor-advised fund that will continue Pat’s legacy of giving back to the community for generations to come.
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.
Anita Nickels Johnson
Described as a strong and independent woman ahead of her time, Anita Johnson enjoyed a long and successful career in librarianship and, more generally, education. She was a lifelong learner and avid global explorer. She loved music; she and her husband owned three vintage player pianos and were major patrons of the musical arts. A decade ago, Anita established the Steven B. and Anita Nickels Johnson Fund to support the local botanical gardens’ programs and maintenance of the greenhouse. A generous estate gift established a fund at our Community Foundation to support STEM education for girls. Notes her son, Raymond Nickels, “My mother loved her adopted home town of Grand Junction and believed strongly in the power of education to change and improve lives. She would want to encourage young women to pursue academic interests like engineering and mathematics that are traditionally less open to them. This is a wonderful way to honor my mother and her pioneering spirit.” Other philanthropic interests included her church and a variety of education and arts/cultural organizations: the Grand Junction Symphony, the Museums of Western Colorado, and the John McConnell Math and Science Center, now known as Eureka! McConnell Science Museum.
Stephen B. and Anita Nickels Johnson Fund
Stephen Johnson loved flowers. As the son of the founder of Johnson House of Flowers, a family-owned local floral business since 1919, Steve worked daily with seeds and pots and flowers and vases. Anita Johnson remembers her late husband fondly. “He just loved flowers. It was always more than a business. Flowers were not just his living but his life. We used to joke that he must have been born in a flowerpot.” Anita moved to Grand Junction from California in the early 1970s to marry Steve. She was an active volunteer at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens for many years. Anita set up a designated endowment fund at our Community Foundation. “I wanted to do something special to remember Steve. This fund will provide financial support to maintain and repair the greenhouse at the Botanical Gardens and to organize greenhouse programs for the public. These are things that would be near and dear to Steve’s heart. I know he would love to share his love of flowers and gardening with others in the community.” Her designated fund allows her to support her husband’s interests indefinitely.
Leitzinger-Hallenbeck Family Scholarship Fund
Gwen Hallenbeck has lived on the family farm, a Centennial Farm outside Hotchkiss, for decades and has deep roots in the community. She is active in her church (Hotchkiss United Methodist Church) and dearly loves her large family. Having seen her own children and grandchildren go through their education, she combined her fondness for her family with her interest in educatio – several years ago, Gwen and her late husband Charles set up several scholarship funds to honor members of their family (Charles Hallenbeck and Olivia Finnegan, Joe and Lettie Cribb Leitzinger). These have now been combined into one larger scholarship fund for the support of students from Hotchkiss High School. Gwen believed in supporting both traditional four-year degrees and vocational trainings.
These scholarships serve not only to provide the younger generations with stepping stones to success but to remind all who receive them that there once lived several very special people who shared their plenty with others as a way to honor their dear ones.
Richard W. McGuire Jr. Memorial Scholarship
Richard McGuire was a college professor who taught biology for many decades. When he passed away, his widow Doris and several other family members established an endowed scholarship to keep his spirit and memory alive. The new scholarship will support students from Delta County high schools who are going to study in the field of natural sciences – biology, chemistry, botany, or medicine and health. Doris remembers her husband, “Richard loved teaching and helping his students understand the world of science. I’m pleased to be able to help young people advance their studies in something near and dear to my husband’s heart.“ As the next generation goes forward, taking knowledge to the future, they bear with them a memorial to this teacher’s past.
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.
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.
Richard W. Pippenger Scholarship Fund
Long-time Grand Valley resident Dick Pippenger is worked a 50+ year career in fire safety that includes working for five different federal agencies, a stint as Fire Chief and Marshal at Yellowstone National Park, and most recently serving as the fire marshal at the Lower Valley Fire Protection District. In addition, Dick has many decades of experience with the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) which presented him with a distinguished leadership award last year. This life-long passion moved Dick to create a scholarship, available for active members of a recognized fire department who are working towards a BS or AS degree in Fire Science or Public Administration/Public Safety on-line. His intent is to support those working in fire protection as they continue learning to be the best members of a fire-fighting force that they can be. As he said, “Once you’ve seen families who have lost a loved one in a fire, you start to really care about fire prevention. I want to help the next generation of firefighters get more education and management in this field I care so much about.”
Joe and Del Prinster Fund (for Holy Family)
Lifelong Grand Junction resident Joe Prinster passed away on Christmas Eve 2014 at the age of 89. In western Colorado, the Prinster family name and City Market are synonymous. Joe worked his entire career in the grocery business, serving as president of City Markets from 1978 to 1987. Through his business enterprise he provided food and jobs in our community, but he also did so through his extensive philanthropy. Joe was an avid supporter of Grand Valley Catholic Outreach and was instrumental in the Prinster family donation of the old City Market warehouse at 1st and Main Streets so the growing organization could provide a larger soup kitchen and serve more people through a range of social services. In terms of jobs, he was a founder and leader in the Mesa County Economic Development Council (now the Grand Junction Economic Partnership) and the Chamber of Commerce – both organizations which generate jobs and employment in Mesa County. He was a man of deep faith, known for his daily Mass attendance at St. Joseph Catholic Church and great generosity to his parish and Holy Family Catholic School. Joe was a founding board member of our Community Foundation, a long-time donor and leader. During our start-up years, our organization received a matching challenge from the Boettcher Foundation; if we could raise a certain amount of funds each year over a three year period, Boettcher would give us $500,000 for our fledgling Community Grants Fund. We struggle to meet the match during the first year of the challenge. Joe stepped in and wrote a large check, allowing us to meet our challenge and, frankly, continue to operate. Joe was known for doing this – stepping up and helping nonprofits achieve their plans – quietly, modestly, regularly. We were a small $1 million foundation then; we are now $45 million in total assets, awarding almost $2 million in grants and scholarships each year. Joe Prinster was instrumental in our organization achieving this potential. Joe and his wife Del were very involved in their church and the Holy Family Catholic School. A decade ago they established a designated endowment at our Community Foundation to support the school. A generous estate gift will increase that fund, providing a permanent revenue stream to the Catholic school for tuition assistance and retirement support for teachers, something that mattered a lot to Joe and the Prinster family. Our Community Foundation has a favorite Winston Churchill quote: “You make a living by what you do, you make a life by what you give.” City Market and the grocery business is what Joe Prinster did to make his living; caring about Grand Junction, his church and his community was his life.
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.
Born and raised in Iowa, Robert Ringstrand lived in many different places throughout his career in electrical engineering and telecommunications but spent his final years in western Colorado close to family. Ring lived in many different places throughout his career in electrical engineering and telecommunications but spent his final years in western Colorado close to family. An early love of the outdoors would continue his whole life. Ring loved hiking, camping and boating, especially sailing. He camped often on the Grand Mesa and volunteered at the Colorado National Monument Visitor Center for many years. A man of deep faith and generous spirit, Ring made provisions for an estate gift in the last year of his life. After consulting with his estate attorney on how best to fulfill his charitable intentions, Ring decided to establish the Ringstrand Family Fund with his three daughters named as donor advisors. Two of Ring’s daughters, Kristine Kampf and Anne Ringstrand, live here in Grand Junction and his daughter Karen Ringstrand visits frequently from Virginia. Notes Kristine, “We are excited our dad made this gift. We’ve known about the Community Foundation and all the good work they do for years. It will be rewarding for me and my sisters to provide financial support to projects helping others in our community.” Ring’s community interests will be supported for many years to come, thanks to this generous legacy gift
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.
Tim Schultz Fund for Rural Colorado
Born and raised in Grand Junction, Tim Schultz harbors a deep love for western Colorado – hunting and fishing, JUCO baseball, local peaches and wine, many lifelong friends. When Tim was named to lead the Boettcher Foundation in 1995, one of his early commitments was to support the vision of our founders to build a regional Community Foundation to serve the needs of western Colorado. The Boettcher Foundation provided a generous three-year matching challenge to help our Community Foundation get started. Fast forward twenty years to 2017. The Western Colorado Community Foundation celebrated its 20th anniversary and Tim Schultz announced his retirement from the Boettcher Foundation. In celebration of both events, the Boettcher Foundation trustees honored Tim with the establishment of a donor-advised fund to be managed by the Community Foundation he helped create. The surprise retirement gift was announced at our 20th anniversary luncheon in May, where Tim served as the keynote speaker. The new Tim Schultz Fund for Rural Colorado will support programs to improve the lives of people living in rural Colorado communities. Preference will be given to projects that are new and involve collaboration between nonprofit/community organization(s) and local government entities. Inter-sector collaboration was something Tim championed during his tenure at the Boettcher Foundation.
A mid-western boy, Bob Shales grew up, raised a family and practiced dentistry in Illinois before retiring and moving to Grand Junction in 1992. He was active in his church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and a generous donor to the parish and its school. Bob seemed to have countless friends. He enjoyed people and conversation, read voraciously and was always ready to discuss the latest play at CMU or issues of the day, quick to joke and with a twinkle in his eye. One of the many activities he pursued in retirement was volunteering at Grand Valley Catholic Outreach’s Soup Kitchen, something he did for 27 years. Sr. Karen Bland commented on Bob, “He was such a faithful volunteer at Catholic Outreach. During his last year of volunteering, when he could no longer pick up donations at the food markets, he joined his Thursday crew helping serve beverages. He said Thursdays were the highlight of his week. In his later years, when he was confined to his house and could no longer volunteer, he relished hearing stories of the Soup Kitchen.” Bob’s life was book ended by two periods of severe economic crisis in this country – the Great Depression and the COVID pandemic. As a boy, his family survived several difficult years because of the generosity of others. He and his sister received scholarships to attend the local Catholic school when his family could not afford the tuition. Bob’s life was shaped by these early experiences and he developed a lifetime commitment to helping others. At the end of his life, he was more worried about people in his community losing jobs and not getting enough to eat than he was about his own health problems. His estate gift will provide tuition scholarships at Holy Family Catholic School and will also support our Community Grants Fund to meet unmet needs in the community.
Serra Family Fund
A number of years ago, long-time Montrose residents Mike and Gwen Serra celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. The Serras have long believed in the importance of education; all seven children are college graduates. On the occasion of their milestone wedding anniversary, their children decided to establish a trust account to provide funds in the Serra Family name to the grade-school that all seven of them had attended: Northside Elementary School in Montrose. When Mike passed away, memorial donations were made in his honor. The family moved the trust account to our Community Foundation for management, and plan to grow the balance in coming years. Funds will continue to support extra equipment and materials the school might need and cannot afford in its basic budget. Daughter Monique Serra commented on what this means for her mom, her sister and five brothers. “We see how tight the school budgets are these days and our family is delighted to be able to provide support to Northside Elementary. The Community Foundation will be able to continue this funding in our family’s name for many decades. This school is something our whole family cares about and wants to support.”
Sundin Family Fund
Hjalmar (Hal) Sundin moved with his wife, Mary, to Glenwood Springs in 1989. Their daughter, Norma, moved from Denver to Summit County about the same time. Hal embraced the outdoor lifestyle, enjoying skiing and hiking. Mary enjoyed tending her flower beds and was involved in the Glenwood Springs Garden Club. Hal has served on many local boards and for years he directed the activities of the 100 Club, an organization for active seniors. Hal and his daughter were very close. After Mary passed away, father and daughter started talking about what they might do with the family’s assets. There are no grandchildren or other heirs. Those conversations evolved into a strong commitment and interest in charitable giving. The Sundin Family Fund was created to provide ongoing funding to a list of favorite charities that Hal and Norma developed together. These include many human services organizations, organizations supporting health issues and animal welfare organizations. Given their love of the outdoors, they wanted to support organizations like the Aspen Valley Land Trust, the Continental Divide Land Trust and the Wilderness Workshop. Notes Hal, “I like the idea that I can trust the Community Foundation to shepherd our family’s fund and support the charities and organizations that Mary, Norma, and I have cared about for years.”
Vanderhoof Family Fund
Long-time Glenwood resident, family man, businessman and banker, community leader and public servant, Don Vanderhoof passed away at the end of 2017. Affectionately known as “Mr. Glenwood Springs”, Don’s contributions to his community are extensive. These included serving two terms as a City Councilman (including two years as Mayor), kissing pigs for Garfield Youth Services, running Strawberry Days for over a decade, and being active in the Chamber of Commerce and the local Lions Club. He was recognized as Citizen of the Year in 1987. Don’s son, Steve, serves on our regional Community Foundation board and is also active with our affiliate in Glenwood Springs, the Two Rivers Community Foundation. “It was my dad’s commitment to Glenwood Springs that propelled him to give so generously with his service and philanthropy, thereby instilling this same calling in his children and grandchildren.” The Vanderhoof name is synonymous with philanthropy and community leadership. We were pleased to work with the family in establishing a donor-advised endowment fund in 2003. Their family was instrumental in forging the affiliation partnership between our two community foundations.
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.
Learn more about the organizations receiving support as part of Jo Waldeck’s legacy:
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.
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.