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Monday, April 16, 2018
As Reported by Shelley Mesch of Wisconsin State Journal
Middleton philanthropist Don Anderson, who with his wife, Marilyn, donated $3 million to establish a hospice facility in Fitchburg 20 years ago, died Thursday evening at age 97.
Anderson died at the facility he and his wife made possible — Agrace’s Don & Marilyn Anderson HospiceCare Center. His wife of 65 years died at the facility on April 18, 2008.
The Andersons’ donation is credited with boosting Agrace’s fundraising to build the residential hospice facility in 1998, Agrace president Lynne Sexten said Friday.
“That gift … really is what gave us our wings,” Sexten said.
Because of the Andersons’ donation, Agrace named the then-18-bed, $10 million facility in their honor when it opened in 2000. The facility has since expanded.
The Andersons said at the time that they were motivated by a Christian belief to help others.
“It’s part of living,” Don Anderson said in 1998. “We have to give of ourselves. It doesn’t have to be money, but it can be serving others.”
The Andersons were able to donate such a large sum in part because of the knowledge and skills Don Anderson learned while earning a degree in economics from Ripon College and through his career in the insurance industry.
Agrace wasn’t the only organization the Andersons supported. They also gave $1 million to the United Way to build its headquarters, $1 million to UW-Madison for an endowment for a chaired oncology department position, $1 million for a 300-seat amphitheater at Edgewood College and $2 million to their alma mater, Ripon College.
Sexten said Anderson was a talented businessman and served on the Agrace board for years, but his way with numbers wouldn’t be the only thing missed with his death.
“He had a fabulous wit,” Sexten said. “A sharp, funny wit.”
Anderson also was an outdoorsman and a life-long deer hunter. He hunted well into his 90s and used the same gun his father had given him in his childhood.
He and his wife met while attending Ripon College when a mutual friend set them up on a blind date.
The Andersons were parents to five children, including three adopted children.