Within the past six months, our community has lost two giants of business: Merlin Hanson in June and Steve Upton in December.
These two giants of industry were even larger than life philanthropists within our community. It is my opinion that no two individuals have combined to provide more charitable contributions than Merlin and Steve to our community, especially to the Lakeshore Excellence Foundation.
I dedicated my last column to Merlin and it is only fitting that I do the same for Steve. Even though Steve was the Vice President of Consumer Affairs for Whirlpool Corporation when I first started at the company, I actually met Steve and his wife Betsy as members of the First Congregational Church. Our daughter, Sue, was just a toddler and they took a special liking to her. Betsy and Steve loved children and were very strong advocates of the foster care program for children with some 13 foster care children that they personally cared for.
As we both advanced in age, I had three great opportunities to relate with Steve one on one about life, family, and the community.
The first opportunity was the Senior PGA golf tournament that took place every other year starting in 2012. I would have the opportunity to drive Steve around Harbor Shores in a golf cart observing the play. Of course, only a portion of our conversation was about golf.
My next opportunity took place when I was selected in 2015, as the recipient of the Margaret B. Upton Community Volunteer of the Year award. This is an annual community volunteerism award named after Steve’s mother. Steve presented me with the award while making some very nice personal comments. We further shared our thoughts on leadership and the community privately over dinner with our wives.
Finally, in 2016, Steve initiated an annual Steve Upton Love Your Community grant of $50,000 which was given to a deserving non-profit. Bill Marohn and I were asked by Steve to be on the Selection Committee along with Jeff (his son), Betsy, and Steve. Each September, we would meet at Steve’s home to select the winner. Even more special was the next 60-90 minutes when we would just talk about anything and everything. I was very humbled to have been asked to take part in this process. Through this process and time together, I was able to further learn about Steve’s philanthropic thought process.
Steve, like Merlin, was a very special person with a caring and giving heart, supporting special projects and causes. We will all miss Steve and especially those special September meetings. Rest in peace, Steve, our friend.
The Lakeshore Excellence Foundation is grateful for the support of these visionary philanthropists.
J.C. Anderson, Chairman
Lakeshore Excellence Foundation