University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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UW-Eau Claire Foundation, YMCA to Receive
$10 Million in Estate Gifts

 MAILED:  Dec. 9, 2003

EAU CLAIRE — Two Chippewa Valley organizations will receive an estimated $10 million in estate gifts from the son of a longtime University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty member who retired more than a half century ago.

The UW-Eau Claire Foundation and the Eau Claire YMCA recently were notified they will receive at least $4 million each as beneficiaries of a trust from the estate of Lt. Col. George L. Simpson Jr. He was the son of Col. George L. Simpson Sr., one of UW-Eau Claire’s first faculty members, and Marie (Stannard) Simpson, a member of the university’s first graduating class in 1917.

The UW-Eau Claire Foundation also will receive $2 million as an outright gift from the estate, bringing the total gift to the university to at least $6 million, said Foundation President Carole Halberg.

The $6 million gift to the university and the $4 million gift to the YMCA are the largest gifts received to date by either organization.

The university and the YMCA will receive the trust dollars in the future, but the UW-Eau Claire Foundation expects to receive the $2 million gift this month, Halberg said.

“I can’t begin to adequately express the immense gratitude of the university community and our foundation,” Halberg said. “This family’s incredible gift has the ability to literally transform programs at UW-Eau Claire.”

“This is truly a stunning gift for the YMCA,” said director Ken Van Es. “Certainly we have had gifts before and in some cases very large gifts. However, we have never had anything like this.”

Lt. Col. George L. Simpson Jr., who was born in 1923 in Eau Claire, attended UW-Eau Claire (then the Eau Claire State Teachers College) and played on the football team in the early 1940s. He was a member of the YMCA when he lived in Eau Claire. He left Eau Claire to serve with the U.S. Army’s 301st Infantry in Europe during World War II, where he earned two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. He later lived in De Pere and Phelps before relocating to Florida, where he lived until his death in August.

George Simpson Jr.’s father, Col. George L. Simpson Sr., was one of the original 20 faculty members at UW-Eau Claire (then called the Eau Claire State Normal School). He was a professor of geography from 1916 to 1951, taking leaves from the university to serve during both World War I and World War II. A football letter winner at Oshkosh High School, Oshkosh State Normal School and UW-Madison (then the University of Wisconsin), George Simpson Sr. served as UW-Eau Claire’s first basketball and football coach. He died in 1963 at the age of 72.

The $2 million outright gift to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation will become part of the university’s Endowment for Excellence, Halberg said. Annual earnings from the endowment support student scholarships, faculty/student research, the Honors Program, faculty development and the university’s other areas of greatest need.

The Foundation’s share of the Simpson trust account will be split between university athletics and the department of geography and anthropology as designated by George Simpson Jr., Halberg said, noting that George Simpson Sr. taught geography for 35 years and was a longtime coach in the athletics department.

“As one of the university’s first faculty members and coaches, George Simpson Sr. touched the lives of thousands of the school’s earliest students,” Halberg said. “Thanks to the generosity of his son, UW-Eau Claire students now will be served by this family well into the future.”

Van Es said it’s often difficult to measure how well the YMCA fulfills its motto, “building strong kids, strong families, strong communities,” but “obviously in this case the YMCA had a very positive impact on the life of George Simpson Jr.”

The gifts to the university bring to $33.4 million the total contributions to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation’s ongoing comprehensive fund-raising campaign, Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence. The campaign, which began in July 2000, continues through June 2005.

“We are elated to receive this news in the midst of our campaign,” Halberg said. “In these fiscally challenging times, private support from our alumni and friends is the key to ensuring that the university will provide quality programs for our students into the future. This gift from the Simpson estate clearly helps our effort in a very big way.”

Van Es said that the news of the Simpson estate gift comes at a particularly critical time for the YMCA as well.

“With a major capital campaign on the horizon for the YMCA, to be able to anticipate a gift of this size in the future is just tremendous,” he said. “This legacy gift is a shining example of what people can do for nonprofit charities and the very positive impact they can have on their community.”


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 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: December 8, 2003