Couple donates $100 million to Fox Valley Community Foundation

David and Rita Nelson (Photo courtesy of the David L. and Rita E. Nelson Family Fund)

KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WLUK) -- A couple is making a difference in the community.

The estate of David and Rita Nelson is donating $100 million to the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley region.

The couple lived in De Pere for most of their 73-year marriage. David was born in Kaukauna and Rita in Janesville.

The couple had three sons. Rita was a teacher and David managed companies that published newspapers in Appleton and Green Bay before investing in radio stations and other businesses.

Rita passed away Feb. 16, 2017, at age 93, and David died five months later on July 18, 2017, at the age of 96.

The money will be used to benefit the couple's interests including area parks, recreation, education and historic preservation.

Initial grants given in Northeast Wisconsin are:

  • $2.6 million will go to the Grassy Island Range Lights to restore two lighthouses near Green Bay.
  • $650,000 will go towards creating a pedestrian/bicycle boardwalk in Little Chute and Kaukauna
  • $50,000 will go to restore a pavilion at High Cliff State Park.
  • $50,000 will go toward restoring historical Grignon Mansion in Kaukauna
  • $30,000 will go toward a scholarship at David's alma mater Kaukauna High School
  • $25,000 will go to support St. Vincent de Paul Society in Green Bay where Rita volunteered
  • $15,000 will be used to build a prayer garden at St. Norbert College.

"This gift will forever change the face of Northeast Wisconsin and will help us to improve riverwalks and historical properties and send kids to school and get an education, so many different ways this gift will be transformational for all people here in this community," said Curt Detjen, president and CEO of Community Foundation.

A portion of the donation will be given back to the community each year.

The donation is the largest single gift given to the Community Foundation and is among the largest ever given in the state of Wisconsin.

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