As we live our lives, many of us may think about how we can leave this
world a better place. The legacy that we work to build through our careers,
the actions we take, or even the words we say, can impact future generations.
Throughout his 96 years, Don Wildes was a hard-working, community-oriented
man who gave great thought to how he could impact the world around him.
Don developed his legacy as he gave his time and support to the organizations
that were important to him.
After the Mauston-native passed in 2016, the expanse of his financial legacy
was revealed. Don left generous donations to a number of local organizations,
including Mile Bluff Medical Center Foundation.
In the fall, Don’s brother and estate executor, Carl, presented the
foundation with a donation of $23,201.17 from Don’s estate.
Growing up in a farming family with nine other siblings, Don learned the
value of hard work early in life. After graduating high school, Don went
to work construction in Rockford, Illinois before serving as a combat
engineer in World War II. In 1957, Don bought a lumber yard in Mauston
and worked there until his retirement in the late 1980s.
“Don built a lot of homes in Mauston, and even helped build the old
hospital in 1963,” recalled Don’s youngest brother, Carl.
“He helped build the American Legion too.”
Carl remembers his brother as a hard-working and caring person. Another
‘quality’ that comes to mind when remembering Don, is his
accident-prone nature. “Don lived one month short of 97 years, and
there were many miracles that allowed him to live that long,” said
Carl. “He took risks and was a tough bird.”
“One time, he had fallen at a construction site and hit his head.
He had bleeding on his brain, and the doctors had to drill a hole in his
skull to relieve the pressure. If he would have known that’s what
they were going to do, he probably would have done it himself with the
drills at home,” joked Carl. “It wouldn’t have surprised
Whether it was helping build something, or giving time and funds, Don’s
desire to help others and to give back to his community was a value he
held throughout his life. “I’m not sure why he chose the hospital
foundation,” expressed Carl. “He didn’t have any children,
so maybe with all of his medical experiences, he was led to leave something
to the hospital. Or, maybe helping to build the old hospital had an influence
Regardless of why Don gave, Carl wants his brother to be remembered as
an all-around good person. When asked why his brother was so dedicated
to giving back to the community, Carl couldn’t answer for sure,
but added with a sly smile, “I could say that he learned it from
his youngest brother.”
The members of Mile Bluff Medical Center Foundation are honored to be
recipients of Don’s legacy. Martha Airth-Kindree, the foundation’s
executive director, believes this generous gift will go to help many lives
in Juneau County and the surrounding communities.
“As with many of the donations made to the foundation, Don’s
very generous gift will be used for the areas of greatest need,”
Martha explained. “These unrestricted funds allow us the flexibility
to respond to the needs that arise within the medical center. That could
look like a new water filtration system for dialysis, or support for an
entirely new Mile Bluff service.”
Martha added, “We are very grateful that Don chose the foundation
as part of his legacy. We hope his generosity inspires others to give
Create your legacy
It’s never too early to start growing your legacy. Like Don, you
could arrange for planned giving or charitable estate planning. This is
when you make plans for a financial gift to be given to a charity in the
future, or at your passing. These gifts are generally large in size, and
are vital to sustaining organizations into the future.
Planned gifts require more thought and preparation than cash donations.
Through these types of gifts, you are able to make an even bigger impact
on the lives of others. “Gifts can be made in many ways, like property,
stocks, annuities or trusts,” explained Martha. “The best
way to get started is to talk to a financial planner or lawyer to see
what the best way is for you to give.”
If planned giving isn’t something you’re able to do, you can
still have a positive impact on the health of your community. “No
donation is too small! It’s amazing what a few donations can achieve
when they are put together,” said Martha. “‘Small’
gifts of time or money can make a huge impact!”
The representatives of Mile Bluff Medical Center Foundation are grateful
to Don Wildes for the legacy he shared. His very generous gift will go
a long way in helping improve the health and wellness of patients throughout
Juneau County and beyond.
If you would like to begin planning your legacy through the work of the
foundation, contact Martha Airth-Kindree at 608-847-1495 or firstname.lastname@example.org.