Nearly a century ago on a family farm in Leon, Wisconsin, Esther Fox, a daughter of Norwegian immigrants, and her husband began raising their children with love, patience, and faith. Esther’s youngest child, Sandra Osborne of Mequon, still gets a catch in her voice when she talks about her beloved mom and her older brother, Allen.
While Esther’s life centered on family, teaching in rural schools and the farm, Allen’s took him to the far corners of the world. Born in 1924, he was a star baseball pitcher for Sparta High School. He enlisted in the U.S. Army, landed at Normandy just 10 days after D-Day, and served in several locations in Western Europe. After the war, he did heavy construction work in Guam and then in Alaska, helping to build roads, airstrips, bridges and the Alaska Pipeline before retiring to western Wisconsin.
Al, who never married, had saved and invested. He made a plan to use some of his assets to create a legacy for his mom.
“He decided that his Will would include a gift to LSS to establish the Esther Erickson Fox Endowment Fund,” said Sandra. “I suggested that the fund’s proceeds be used to strengthen families, recalling how our mom was the strength of our family.”
Today, the fund supports LSS programs that help children, youth and families in La Crosse and Monroe Counties.
Al’s plan also established a charitable life income agreement through LSS as a way to provide assured income for himself and, ultimately, to provide another gift to LSS. In making this decision, Al had expert guidance from Sandra’s husband, Jerry Osborne, who worked with the LSS Foundation as director of corporate and foundation relations during the 1990s.
A charitable life income agreement involves making a gift of cash or appreciated assets to the LSS Foundation, which then provides the giver with regular payments at a specified rate. The giver has a steady source of income, can take a charitable income tax deduction, and may even reduce taxes on capital gains.
Upon Al’s death in 2010 at age 85, his life income agreement transferred to Sandra; upon her death, the benefit will go to LSS.
“It’s a very safe and practical gift,” said Sandra. “And in the end, it will help LSS continue the work of improving people’s lives.”
She and Jerry have each set up charitable life income agreements to benefit LSS, too. Upon their deaths, the assets will go to the Esther Erickson Fox Endowment Fund.
“When someone dies, no matter how much you loved them, in time their memory becomes distant or nonexistent to future generations,” said Sandra. “The Esther Erickson Fox Endowment Fund, along with our charitable life income agreements, make it possible for us to keep my mother’s and Al’s legacies alive and to continue to support what was important to them – happy, healthy families.”