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While The Denver Foundation accepts gifts of all sizes to support its endowment and programs, the Community Leadership Circle is a group of donors who provide significant support to help The Denver Foundation improve life in Metro Denver today and for generations to come.  You can enjoy their inspiring stories below. To learn how to become a member of the Community Leadership Circle, contact Sarah Harrison at 303.300.1790.

Laura Barton and her family

Laura Barton and her late husband, Peter, first came to The Denver Foundation in 2001. They had just realized the financial benefit of a business venture and wanted to put some of those resources into a charitable fund. “Our intention was to learn about charitable giving as preparation for future philanthropic activities for our family,” explains Laura. “We selected The Denver Foundation because it offered excellent financial stewardship of the assets, and we were interested in the educational offerings.”

Laura’s involvement with The Denver Foundation has deepened through her service as a volunteer on the Board of Trustees and several advisory committees. Laura’s philanthropic priorities include education, reproductive health, human services, and children’s health. She includes her children, now adults, in decisions and discussions about the family’s philanthropy.

In 2008, Laura made a generous donation to the Foundation to create a fund in the Community Endowment. The Foundation makes grants from the fund in the community’s area of greatest need, then reports to the Barton family about the impact. “I wanted to endorse the thoughtful work I observed when I was on the board,” she explains.

Erna Butler

Erna Butler has a thirst for knowledge. During her lifetime she has learned to raise cattle, raise children, play the piano, and be an outstanding community volunteer.

Since moving from Cincinnati to Denver in 1989 to be close to her two children and four grandchildren, Erna has become involved with a nonprofit organization that supports her passion - education, and specifically, early childhood education. Erna's late husband Brad helped co-found Colorado Bright Beginnings in 1995. The mission of Bright Beginnings is to provide a warm welcome, books, materials, and education to parents of newborns to encourage the healthy development of children during their first few years of life. Erna sat on the board of Colorado Bright Beginnings for many years before passing the duty on to her daughter Nancy, who shares her mother's enthusiasm for learning and was a Denver Public Schools teacher.

In 1997, Erna and Brad created the Butler Family Fund at The Denver Foundation to support their favorite education-related causes. Among them is Summer Scholars, a Denver nonprofit that focuses on literacy for elementary school students. Erna is proud that her children now help make decisions about how to disburse dollars from their family fund. She also has a scholarship fund for nursing students at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, another organization in which she believes whole-heartedly. In fact, Erna co-founded an organization called The Good Samaritans, which provides monetary support to the hospital. "Don't ever stop learning," Erna says.

Frances Charsky

Frances Charsky was of Danish descent. She married Louis Charsky after World War II and she moved with him to his home in Denver. The Charskys owned apartments and other real estate in central and downtown Denver. Mrs. Charsky helped her husband manage the properties, while she also worked as a successful investor and financier.

The couple loved to travel, especially in Europe. Mrs. Charsky developed a passion for collecting, particularly during their time in England and France. She had exquisite taste, and she assembled an astonishing assortment of decorative antique arts, including porcelain, china, silver, and furniture.

Mrs. Charsky lived past the age of 90. In her later years, she thought a lot about her legacy. After discussions with one of her closest friends, Bea Taplin, former The Denver Foundation Trustee, Mrs. Charsky decided to leave her estate to The Denver Foundation. Her estate included real estate, such as the famous Cherry Cricket Restaurant on 2nd Avenue in Cherry Creek, and her collection of antiques and jewelry, auctioned after her death by Christy’s in New York.

Because her legacy created a fund in The Denver Foundation’s Community Endowment, Frances Charsky continues to have a deep and long-lasting connection to the region she loved. Each year, The Denver Foundation makes dozens of grants in her name to organizations helping people in need, advancing education, and expanding opportunity for Metro Denver residents. This remarkable woman will be remembered for her generosity for generations to come.

Lee Palmer Everding

Lee Palmer Everding raised her adult sons, Richard and Robert Kylberg, with a tradition of giving. When the boys were growing up, holiday seasons meant a visit to a family who had requested assistance. She believes the experiences of directly helping people were part of the reason her sons have grown to be such decent men. "What children experience is what means the most," she says.

Several years ago, Lee, a clinical social worker, was asked to join The Denver Foundation's Human Services grantmaking advisory committee. She was then elected to serve on the Foundation's Board of Trustees where she learned about donor-advised funds. In 2001, Lee's mother, Virginia Lee Clinch, offered her a gift of highly appreciated stock to donate to the nonprofit organization of her choice. Lee chose to open an endowed donor-advised fund with The Denver Foundation, naming the fund for her mother, The Virginia Lee Clinch Fund. Richard and Robert serve as advisors to the Fund.

Lee expanded her commitment to The Denver Foundation by setting up two additional funds. Lee especially loves that the Foundation allows her family to experience philanthropy "their way." She and her sons talk often about how they'll use the fund. Their charitable interests are diverse, but their time spent giving together remains truly rewarding.

Carol Gossard

Carol Gossard may have grown up in Dayton, Ohio, but she was a true woman of the West. She and her husband Bill ran the Gossard family’s Circle Bar ranch near Craig, Colorado for decades. Bill served four terms in the Colorado legislature representing mountain and Western Slope counties, while Carol became active in the Red Cross…a passion that would extend throughout her life.

Carol and Bill moved to Denver’s Country Club neighborhood in the 1970s and brought their commitment and volunteerism to the Metro Area. Carol became deeply active in philanthropy and civic causes, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, Four Mile House Historic Park, the Colorado Symphony, and the Hospice of Metro Denver. In her later years, she became deeply involved with the University of Colorado Center for Bioethics and the Humanities, which features the Gossard Forum, an amphitheater devoted to presentations and dialogue on medical ethics.

In 1991, Carol joined The Denver Foundation’s Board of Trustees, beginning a commitment to the Foundation that would last throughout the rest of her life. She served two terms as a trustee and then served on the Marketing and Gifts Committee, introducing The Denver Foundation to others. After she passed away in 2007, she left a generous unrestricted bequest to create the Bill and Carol Gossard Fund, which will help meet the needs of future generations as part of The Denver Foundation’s Community Endowment.

Peter and Rhondda Grant

Peter and Rhondda Grant moved from New York City to Denver more than fifty years ago. From the very beginning of their relocation, both Peter and Rhondda became integral forces within their adopted community. Their involvement has helped many organizations through their service as donors, board members, or volunteers, especially within education, historical preservation, and women's health. Married for nearly 60 years, Peter and Rhondda say their philanthropy knits them closely to one another, as well as to their three daughters, all of whom are involved in community work. Their faith has led them in their giving and involvement in the Denver community. They remain hopeful that their efforts and commitments have led to the betterment of this wonderful community.

Their philanthropic priorities are amplified by their giving, through new initiatives including affinity groups, impact investing, and broad program initiatives. The Grants appreciate The Denver Foundation's enhanced and expanded choices, especially in areas where they've been involved for years.

Amie Knox and Jim Kelley

Amie Knox and Jim Kelley moved to Denver from New York City in 1990 and wanted to become involved in and support the Denver community in a meaningful and thoughtful way. Observing the important work and tangible results of The Denver Foundation through Jim's involvement on the investment committee and Amie's role on the arts and culture advisory committee gave them valuable insights into the talented people, directed mission, and overall excellence of The Denver Foundation's work in the community. Jim later joined the Board of Trustees for two terms and served as a member of the executive, finance, and investment committees.

Amie and Jim's philanthropic priorities include education, the arts, poverty, and the environment, and they trust The Denver Foundation's proven expertise in making a difference in these key areas as well as a broader community impact. Their now-adult children, Ali, Nick, and Bryn, have learned about philanthropy through the family's long involvement with The Denver Foundation. Jim and Amie are grateful to The Denver Foundation for providing such a strong and reliable source of positive change in the community.

Susan Lindsay

Many decades after her death, Susan Lindsay is still changing the quality of life for countless Coloradans through the tradition of family philanthropy that she and her husband George established. The pioneering couple married in 1925 (the same year that The Denver Foundation was created) and made Denver their home. George and his brother Robert started their own company producing "fire brick," called Colorado Clay and Crucible Company. Eventually the company merged with the Denver Fire Clay Company.

Susan received a degree in liberal arts from the University of Denver and was passionate about education. The Lindsays felt strongly about giving to those less fortunate. Although the couple had no children of their own, they found ways to help countless young people. They sponsored buildings on the campus of the former Colorado Women's College, and paid for college educations for almost 40 students.

They also involved their relatives in making charitable gifts to many local causes. Following Susan's death in 1982, her niece Lorraine Hogg, her nephew Bruce Hepp, and her attorney James Seccombe continued to manage the family trusts and distribute charitable gifts throughout the community.

In 2001, they searched for a permanent home for the trusts, and found The Denver Foundation. The trusts became endowed Donor Advised Funds. Eventually, each of the funds will convert to the Foundation's Community Endowment. As The Denver Foundation grants money each year in the Lindsay name, their generosity will be remembered for generations to come.

Pat McClearn

"Voluntourism" is a hot trend right now. Otherwise known as volunteer vacationing, it is travel that includes volunteering for a charitable cause and is something Pat McClearn knows a lot about. In her latest excursion she worked with the Himalayan Dental Relief Project, which engages volunteers to provide free dental care to kids in Nepal and Guatemala.

In actuality, Pat knows a lot about volunteering in general, having given years of volunteer service to such organizations as the League of Women Voters, Colorado State Parks Board, Denver Audubon Board, Denver Botanic Gardens, and Sand Creek Regional Greenway. Pat says: “All my work has been volunteerism. It just feels like what you should be doing when you are a part of a community.”

A sense of volunteerism and a commitment to those less fortunate are traits that Pat shared with her husband, Hugh McClearn. Hugh, who died in August of 2007 from the complications of a bicycle accident four years prior, was a prominent Denver lawyer, real estate investor, and Democratic activist. Additionally, he served as President of the Board of Denver Health Foundation and was a strong supporter of the health clinics in Denver Public Schools. During the 1960s Hugh volunteered for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights representing black employees of the Pullman Company discrimination case. He used many of his own resources to work on the case.

Pat, who was born on the East Coast, and Hugh, a native of Minnesota, met in San Francisco while he was serving in the Army. After Hugh was discharged from the Army in the fall of 1960, the two traveled in Europe for three months before moving permanently to Denver on Christmas Eve, 1960. They had two sons: Andrew, now 44 and a U.S. Foreign Service Officer, and Cameron, 40, a management consultant in New York City.

“At one point we gave a lot of money to our colleges,” Pat stated. She attended Middlebury and Hugh was a Yale Law School graduate. “But we felt that our alma maters were already pretty well-endowed and the money we made came from the Denver community. So we felt we needed to give a portion of it back to this community.”

The couple worked with Sarah Harrison to create a fund at The Denver Foundation with a donation of appreciated stock.

Pat and Hugh decided to become Community Legacy Society Members because they wanted their funds to go back to the community after their lifetimes. “I trust the Foundation to decide where the money will go," Pat said. “And I also trust they’ll be around.”

Pat says she would encourage others to become Legacy donors. “You will make it possible for The Denver Foundation to continue its work permanently.”

Helen M. McLoraine

Helen M. McLoraine was born in Chicago, Illinois, in August, 1918, the daughter of a father who owned his own company which created educational products and a mother who performed vocal work, musical comedies and was a dedicated philanthropist. Helen passed away in January, 2003 due to a fall while attending the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships. She was doing one of the many things she enjoyed in life, watching young kids in figure skating rinks, working to achieve their dreams.

Helen, along with her mother, established The Pioneer Fund, a private family foundation, in the 1960’s, to continue her life long tradition of support to the types of projects and organizations to which she had contributed throughout her lifetime and now through her estate.

Helen (Myers) McLoraine attended the University of Chicago, where she studied business. Helen was a pioneer who, in the 1950’s, put on a hard hat, learned about the oil industry and broke new ground for women to assume leadership roles in business. She put to rest any doubts about women managing money when she managed many pension funds alongside her male counterparts with a very successful track record and solidified her place as a business leader. Helen married Frank McLoraine (“Mac”), a lawyer from Chicago, in 1957 and they resided in Winnetka, Illinois, the north suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.

Helen, deeply influenced by her mother’s dedication to philanthropy, became a generous benefactor to others with a focus on figure skating, higher education assistance, medical research, and youth social welfare. Helen had a heart for small non-profit organizations with great missions and small resources. Her philanthropy includes scholarship to high achieving individuals who are accountable for their life and people in need who knew they were responsible for the direction of their life and had a desire to help others. She did not want recognition for her contributions as she believed the focus should be on the organization, rather than the donor. Helen had provided assistance to over seventy promising United States figure skaters since 1980 and was most well known as the sponsor of 1984 Olympic gold medalist, Scott Hamilton.

The door to Helen’s apartment, which originally opened inward the way that most doors do, was changed to open out to the world. This was indicative of the way Helen embraced life and invited others to do the same. May you apply your life with the same work ethic and passion Helen showed while living, realize the opportunity you are given and are open to helping others as one way of honoring the gift you are given.

The Rothgerber Family

Ira Rothgerber, his son Ira Jr., and daughter Irene were among Denver's most distinguished citizens. Ira Rothgerber, Sr. founded the law firm known today as Rothgerber, Johnson & Lyons, the oldest continuous law partnership in Denver. He was the first Judge of the Probate Court in Denver. Ira, Jr. joined his father's firm and helped it grow. He was among the founders of FirstBank of Colorado, and was a major benefactor of the University of Colorado, including the endowment of the Byron R. White Center for Constitutional Studies. Ira, Jr. served in the U.S. Army in World War II and left the military as a lieutenant colonel. Irene served as Vice Chairman of FirstBank, and gave generously to nonprofit organizations in Boulder and Denver, in the areas of animal welfare, health, and education.

The Rothgerber family shared a love for the Denver community and a passion for philanthropy. They also shared a deep commitment to The Denver Foundation. Ira, Sr. served as chair of the Foundation's Board for its first twenty-five years. His son succeeded him as chair and served for the next twenty-five. All three Rothgerbers left generous legacies to The Denver Foundation. Their estates formed the basis of the Foundation's Community Endowment, which today benefits hundreds of nonprofits each year, through millions of dollars in grants. Today, their legacy funds support organizations important to them, and new organizations formed after their lifetimes to address current needs.

The Rothgerber family understood the purpose of a community foundation - to meet the community's needs today and tomorrow. Their generous legacies, and the Rothgerber family tradition of philanthropy, will be sustained forever through The Denver Foundation.

Dick Winton

Born in Illinois, Dick Winton came to Colorado to work for Gates Rubber Company. He stayed for 30 years. He quickly became deeply connected to Denver, where he enjoyed a rather adventurous life of hiking, biking, and skiing. Despite his outgoing personality, there was also a very private side to Dick: his philanthropy.

In 2008 when the U.S. Economy crashed, Colorado's emergency food system followed suit. Dick appreciated the severity of this breakdown in services, particularly for those most in need. After reading in the media about The Denver Foundation's work to address hunger, Dick gave generously through the Critical Needs Fund to put money quickly into food pantries so they could serve the ever-increasing flow of families in need. Between 2008 and 2012, Dick made a series of gifts to the Critical Needs Fund for emergency food grants, food pantry collaboration and capacity building, and food delivery systems advocacy. He also updated his estate plan, naming The Denver Foundation's Critical Needs Fund as a 25% beneficiary in his will. Philanthropy was a private role he played, yet one through which he has helped thousands.