Cedarburg Foundation

2013 Civic Award Recipients: Paul and Philia Hayes

Paul and Philia Hayes

Long time Cedarburg residents Paul and Philia Hayes were honored at the Greater Cedarburg Foundation's 11th Annual Civic Award at the Cedarburg Cultural Center on February 20. The public was invited to this annual free event which celebrates those who have worked to make the community a wonderful place to live.

The Hayes, who have lived in Cedarburg for 45 years, have been active members of the community during much of that time. "Paul and Philia have served the Cedarburg community in many different capacities during most of their lives here," said Peg Edquist, President. "Philia has had a storied career on many civic committees as well as tremendous support of the arts. Paul has remained a staunch supporter of Cedarburg's historic character and has written several articles and books which serve to preserve the memories of past generations."

Philia has served on numerous civic board and committees, including being the first woman appointed to the Police and Fire Commission, The Friends of the Library Board, Cedarburg Landmarks Commission, the Cedarburg Planning Commission, and she was elected to the Cedarburg Common Council in 1998. In 2002, she received a key to the City for Meritorious Civic Service.

Philia has been active with the Cedarburg Cultural Center and served on their board and was president from 2006 to 2008. She continues her involvement at the center including as a member of the Architectural House Tour Committee and Historic Properties Committee.

Paul was a journalist at the Milwaukee Journal from 1962 to 1995 and held numerous positions, including enviromental and science reporter and was a full time staff writer for Wisconsin magazine for seven years. Among his many writings about Cedarburg and the surrounding area was Cedarburg; Building a Town the Old Fashioned Way for the Milwaukee Journal's Sunday Magazine in 1993, The Cedarburg Illusion, an essay for the book In My Neighborhood; Celebrating Wisconsin Cities. The Dams of Cedarburg for the Wisconsin Academy Review in Madison, and Cedarburg Cultural Center: Celebrating a Quarter Century, for the Cedarburg Cultural Center.

Paul was also a member of the Fire and Police Commission and was a member of the board of the Greater Cedarburg Foundation from 2002 to 2007. During that time, he was editor of its newsletter "Cedarburg ... Now and Forever." He has also volunteered at the Cedarburg Cultural Center and the Cedarburg Library.

This is the eleventh annual Civic Award event, which has honored several outstanding citizens in years past, including Merlin Rostad, Carl Edquist, Ralph Huiras, Edward Rappold, Bob Armbruster, Mal Hepburn, Don and Janet Levy, Layton and Barbara Olsen, Jim and Sandy Pape and Jim Coutts.

"This is our eleventh year and we never seem to run out of worthy candidates for this honor," Edquist said. "As we all know, Cedarburg is a special place to live and these people have contributed so much and deserve to be honored by the community."


2012 Civic Award Recipient: Jim Coutts

Jim Coutts

It was an evening of warmth and laughter on February 16 when longtime civic volunteer Jim Coutts was honored as the recipient of the 2012 Civic Award by the Greater Cedarburg Foundation. A crowd of more than 200 people filled the Cedarburg Cultural Center to honor Coutts for his tireless dedication to the community.

It was Jim - a devoted volunteer and civic activist for more than 40 years - who introduced the idea to start the Greater Cedarburg Foundation more than 12 years ago. “Jim has done so much for Cedarburg that it would be impossible to name all of the activities he has been involved in,” said Ben Levy, President. “He led the way on many positive initiatives for the city for a long time.”

Jim Coutts was born in Waukesha, the son of then Waukesha Mayor George Coutts. He was an avid athlete during his high school and college years, and since that time has been active as a referee for cross country and other sports. After graduating from college, he became a social studies teacher, and worked at Homestead High School in Mequon for 29 years before retiring. He was mayor of Cedarburg from 1993 to 2003 and during his tenure, Jim initiated talks to start a community foundation which eventually became the Greater Cedarburg Foundation. He was President of the GCF from 2006 to 2008. Jim has been actively involved in the Cedarburg Light and Water Commission and was recently named to the National Policymakers Committee for the American Public Power Association in Washington, D.C.

In his remarks, he thanked the many people that have worked with him along the years, and praised the Foundation for growing an endowment of more than $2 million after starting more than decade ago with a small but earnest grass root effort by several community members. “We are truly a community foundation because it was the community that came forward to support it,” he said. “It's a unique feature that sets us apart.” He also thanked the Greater Milwaukee Foundation for all of its support, including a $100,000 matching grant that was given during the early years of the Greater Cedarburg Foundation.

Also at the event, Board President Ben Levy reported that the Foundations endowment has surpassed the $2 million mark and has attained supporting organization status with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, giving it more opportunities to attract donor advised funds from local individuals and groups in the area. “We will continue to be a strong source of funding for many wonderful projects and programs in this area to preserve our cultural heritage, enhance artistic endeavors and support educational, recreational and community services throughout the Cedarburg area,” Levy said.

Vic DiCristo and Tony Gorenc provided entertainment in the beginning of the evening, followed by brief presentations by Lauren Rose Hofland, executive director of the Cedarburg Cultural Center, and Ellie De Lia, treasurer and Development Director of the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts. Both organizations received grants from the foundation in the past year. Sponsors of the evening included Carlson Tool & Manufacturing, Collins & Company Realty, Jim and Sally Castle, H. Ben Levy, Mark & Victoria Benskin, Bob Chmielewski, Greg Zimmerschied and Mary Kay Bourbulas, and Commerce State Bank.


2011 Civic Award Recipients: Jim and Sandy Pape

Jim and Sandy Pape

It was an evening of historical significance for the Cedarburg community March 23 when longtime local residents and preservationists Jim and Sandy Pape were honored as the recipients of the 2011 Civic Award by the Greater Cedarburg Foundation. A crowd of more than 225 people filled the Cedarburg Cultural Center to honor the Pape's for their devotion to historic preservation and civic involvement. Jerry Voigt, chairman of the event, said the turnout was the largest the event has ever attracted.

"Jim and Sandy Pape are pillars of the community as far as preserving the historic beauty of Cedarburg," said Ben Levy, President of the Greater Cedarburg Foundation. "We owe a lot to these two people for all they have done in making our community the special place it is." The Pape's bought and renovated the former Wittenberg Mill near the corner of Bridge St. and Washington Avenue in 1972 and turned it into a collection of shops and art galleries now known as the Cedar Creek Settlement. They also purchased several historic buildings along Washington Avenue to form the Washington House Inn bed and breakfast in 1984.

"Without the tireless dedication of Jim and Sandy Pape, Cedarburg may have become one of the thousands of small towns with featureless main streets, void of historic architecture and old world charm," said Peg Edquist, a foundation board member who made the presentation. She added that the couple also played an integral role in bringing people to Cedarburg and sharing our beautiful city with visitors.

In her remarks, Edquist traced the couple's love of historic stone buildings back to their honeymoon, where they visited the great cities of Europe. After starting a wine making business on Milwaukee's East side in the 1970s, the couple relocated to Grafton with the purchase of an old farmstead built in 1884.They lived there for 27 years before moving to another historical home from 1863 near the covered bridge just north of town. About the same time, Jim was considering locating his wine business to the Wittenburg Mill on the corner of Bridge Road and Washington Avenue. Owner Carl Wittenburg had not been able to find a buyer for the building and was contemplating demolishing the structure to make way for a gas station. Jim was approached by Mayor Steven Fisher to purchase the building, and he teamed up with industrialist Bill Welty to split the purchase price of $55,000. In 1983, Jim formed a partnership with five investors and purchased a collection of buildings on Washington Avenue which became the Washington House Inn in September of 1984.

Meanwhile, Sandy had developed a love of vintage textiles while in college and began a career as an accomplished artist in mixed media. As one of the founders of Christmas in the Country, she has also been President of the Cedarburg Artist Guild and a member of the first board of the Cedarburg Cultural Center. Her most recent accomplishment is the establishment of the Plein Air artist competition in 2000. The couple were also among the founders of the Cedarburg's Winter Festival, Wine and Harvest Festival, and Strawberry Fest. Jim was a founding member of the Cedarburg Landmarks Commission and was instrumental in getting Cedarburg listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The couple was honored with a $1,000 gift which they donated to the Cedarburg Cultural Center.

Also at the event, Board President Ben Levy reported that the Foundations endowment is expected to reach $1.7 million this summer and has thus achieved supporting organization status with the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, giving it more opportunities to attract donor advised funds from local individuals and groups in the area. (see related story) "We will continue to be a strong source of funding for many wonderful projects and programs in this area to preserve our cultural heritage, enhance artistic endeavors and support educational, recreational and community services throughout the Cedarburg area," Levy said.

Vic DiCristo and Tony Gorenc provided entertainment in the beginning of the evening followed by members of the North Shore Academy of the Arts. Sponsors of the evening included Carlson Tool & Manufacturing, Jerry & Alice Voigt, Jim Coutts and Carol Alexander, Levy & Levy, Bob Chmielewski, Robert Loomis, and Mark Benskin.


2010 Civic Award Recipients: Barbara and Layten Olsen

Barbara and Layten Olsen

The Cedarburg Foundation was pleased to honor Barbara and Layton Olsen as recipients of the 2010 Civic Award. The event, held at the Cedarburg Cultural Center on February 25th, honored the couple as business owners who have devoted time, talent and treasure to the community for more than 25 years.

More than 200 people attended the event, which is held each year to honor an outstanding volunteer(s) whose efforts have enhanced the community. "We have so many people who are improving and enhancing Cedarburg every day - but no one has done more in that regard than Layton Olsen," said Bob Chmielewski, President. "Together Barbara and Layton have been a force in this community and have contributed to dozens and dozens of organizations through direct support or indirectly by serving on boards. We are very grateful."

In his remarks honoring the couple, civic event chair and board member Jim Coutts said "Cedarburg would not be what it is today without the hard work and dedication of both Layton and Barbara since they arrived in the area in 1984." He traced their Cedarburg roots back to the first store they owned - Olsenís Red Owl located on Mill Street. Soon after it opened, Olsen became involved in the Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce and the Cedarburg-Grafton Rotary Club, where he became very involved in numerous initiatives, including the resurrection of the Music Festival, bringing the Wisconsin Singers and the UW-Madison Band to Cedarburg High School and spearheading the Haunted High School. He served as President of Rotary in 1995 and remains on the board to this day. He also serves on the board of the Cedarburg Performing Art Center Inc., where he plays an active role in its Visiting Artist Series.

Referring to Olsen's Piggly Wiggly on Washington Avenue which they have operated since 1991, Coutts said the store has been a hub of fundraising activity as well as enriching the lives of hundreds of citizens, most notably high school students. "The store has become a place of opportunity not only as a part time job, but as a place to earn scholarships and public recognition for academic achievement," he said. The store donates bakery and other items to local food pantries, including Family Sharing of Ozaukee County, of which Barbara has been on the board for more than a decade and is currently immediate Past President.

"Perhaps the biggest contribution the Olsen's have made is through their appreciation and love of music," said Coutts, who explained that Olsen approached the Cedarburg-Grafton Rotary in 2000 to underwrite the cost of a music festival should he not be able to get enough sponsors. He raised $16,000 from sponsors and the festival attracted eight drum and bugle corps from around the region. In its first year, the event netted a profit of $16,000. To date, the festival has brought in more than $300,000 which the Rotary Club has dispersed to local individuals and community organizations. "Layton said their success is measured by their ability to give back to the community," Coutts said. "That being said, they are the most successful couple we know."

Also at the event, Board President Bob Chmielewski reported that the Foundation's Endowment Fund is poised to reach $1 million this summer and nearly $100,000 has been awarded in grants since the Foundation began almost ten years ago. Entertainment for the evening featured Vic DiCristo and Tony Gorenc as well as the North Shore Academy of the Arts. Sponsors of the evening included Carlson Tool & Manufacturing, Levy & Levy SC, Terrace Realty, Harris Bank, Olsen's Piggly Wiggly, Commerce State Bank, Jerry and Alice Voigt, Bob and Maria Loomis, Bob and Judy Chmielewski, Carol Alexander and Jim Coutts.


2009 Civic Award Recipient: Mal Hepburn Honored

Mal Hepburn and Family

Friends, family, supporters and board members of the Greater Cedarburg Community Foundation filled the Cedarburg Cultural Center on February 19th as Mal Hepburn was honored as recipient of the 2009 Civic Award. The event, held annually to honor an outstanding contributor to Cedarburg’s vitality, put the spotlight on the many contributions and talents of Mal Hepburn, past president and one of the founding members of the Foundation.

More than 275 people attended the event, which included a “State of the Foundation” report from current chairman Bob Chmielewski. “Mal has made many contributions to the community over the years – both as a business leader and as a civic supporter,” Chmielewski said. “We honor him for making a difference in so many ways and tonight is just a small attempt to say thank you to this wonderful man.” Among the hundreds in attendance were all of the past civic award recipients, including Merlin Rostad, Carl Edquist, Ralph Huiras, Bob Armbruster, Ed Rappold, and Don and Janet Levy.

Mal Hepburn was first introduced to Cedarburg in 1968 when he came from Milwaukee to see a movie at the Rivoli Theater. He loved the historic nature of the town as well as the charitable nature of its citizens. At that time, Hepburn was working for the former First Wisconsin bank. During his time there, he realized he wanted to start his own venture. “Working as a banker, you see your business customers building up equity in their businesses and you come to the realization you don’t get that unless you build a business for yourself,” he said. He began the process of studying different communities in which to locate a bank, and in 1975, he opened Ozaukee Bank in a small renovated farmhouse on Columbia Road in Cedarburg.

He worked at growing the business for ten years before he opened the first branch in Mequon in 1985. The bank thrived and continued to grow, and soon branches in Grafton, Port Washington, and Thiensville were opened. “We had critical mass of branch banks which allowed us to afford to have good financial people and a team of good lenders. A small bank can’t do that so easily,” he said, crediting the bank’s success to its employees. “The neatest thing about the bank was the staff of people we had, and that’s what banking is all about.”  Last year, the bank was sold to Harris Bank from Chicago. “Harris brings to us a Midwestern-based bank that is very well capitalized,” he said. “They have 10.7 percent capital ratio and that’s exceptional in this day and age.”

Hepburn did more than build a successful business in the community; he became involved in many civic activities and has been a key supporter of historic preservation. He has supported the Boy Scouts, chaired the annual fund drive for the Riveredge Nature Center and served as a trustee for Ozaukee Congregational Church. Perhaps he is best known as one of the key leaders of the Greater Cedarburg Community Foundation. As its second President, Hepburn was quoted as saying that “civic improvement is our sole reason for being.” He oversaw the first major fundraiser in 2002, which resulted in more than 44 people each contributing $10,000 to launch the Foundation’s charitable efforts. The effort surpassed expectations when the Greater Milwaukee Foundation contributed $100,000 for a total of $544,000. Among the first recipients of funds were the Kuhefuss House Garden restoration project, the Wisconsin Quilt Museum, and the Cedarburg Performing Arts Center Inc. Shortly after the goal was reached, Hepburn was quoted as saying, “Our success is not due to any one of us, but rather to the affection that the people of Cedarburg exhibit towards their town.” During his time as president and past president of the Foundation, Hepburn continued to work as an aggressive fundraiser, and in 2004 he helped to raise more than $330,000 to pay off the mortgage of the Cedarburg Cultural Center.

“Carl Edquist hit it right on the nose when he said that Mal’s fingerprints and footprints are all over Cedarburg,” said Jim Coutts, Foundation past president and chair of the event. “There’s been very little in this community that Mal hasn’t been involved with. The size of the crowd is a tribute to what he has done for the community.”

Among the hundreds in attendance at the February 2009 award ceremony were all of the past civic award recipients, including Merlin Rostad, Carl Edquist, Ralph Huiras, Bob Armbruster, Ed Rappold, and Don and Janet Levy.

Also at the Civic Event, Foundation President Bob Chmielewski reported the foundation’s endowment was $750,000 and more than $100,000 has been awarded in grants. Entertainment for the evening was provided by the Jazz duo of Vic DiCristo and Tony Gorenc during hors d’oeurvres. They were followed by several numbers by the North Shore Academy of the Arts. Sponsors of the evening were Bob and Judy Chmielewski, Carol Alexander and Jim Coutts, Levy & Levy, Sally and Jim Castle, Carlson Tool & Manufacturing, Harris Bank, Terrace Realty, all of Cedarburg. Port Washington State Bank and Nolan Video provided a videotape of the event.


2008 Civic Award Recipients: Janet and Don Levy

Don Levy
Photo courtesy of Deb Kranitz, The News Graphic

Janet and Don Levy were honored February 28th as the recipients of the 2008 Civic Award. Don and Janet have worked with unselfish enthusiasm to enhance the Cedarburg community in many ways.

As a team they were instrumental in campaigns which made it possible to build the current Cedarburg Library, Webster Transitional School, the Cedarburg Performing Arts Center and the Centennial celebration for the city. As individuals, each has served in unique ways.

Janet Levy was a founder of the Cedarburg High School Community Service Program, which encouraged local high school students to get involved in volunteer activities. Among the events initiated during her 13 years with the program were a prom for adults with disabilities, a haunted house for charity, the "Ski for Sight" to raise money for visually impaired skiers, and the Jam for Charity.

Don Levy's long history of civic involvement includes serving as past president of the Cedarburg/Grafton Rotary, as board member of the Cedarburg Performing Arts Center, and as past chairman of the St. Mary's Foundation Ozaukee. As chairman of the St. Mary's Foundation, Don was instrumental in a campaign to raise $5.3 million for the expansion of the Columbia St. Mary's Ozaukee campus.

He is founder and president of the Cedarburg Landmark Presentation Society, which has preserved many historic structures in the city, including the Grist Mill, Turne Hall, and the most recent renovation of the Rivoli Theatre. His work earned him the Greater Milwaukee Foundation's Frank Kirkpatrick Award in 2002, which honors individuals who enrich the lives of others.


2007 Civic Award Recipient: Edward Rappold Honored

Ed Rappold

Alda and Edward A. Rappold are pictured in front of a display of images from Ed’s collection of photographs on the evening of Ed’s receiving the annual Civic Award of the Cedarburg Foundation.

--Photo by Philia Hayes

Edward A. Rappold, whose collection of historic Cedarburg photographs has kept Cedarburg’s pioneers, their buildings and their lifestyles alive and available for the future, received the fifth annual Civil Award of the Cedarburg Foundation on February 1, 2007.

More than 250 well-wishers attended the foundation’s Civic Celebration at the Cedarburg Cultural Center.  Ed and his wife Alda, who were married in 1941, were at the center table with their daughter, Lynn Hamblin, and her family from St. Paul, Minn.  Another daughter, Gail Hoffman of St. Louis, Mo., could not attend.

Ed Rappold was brought as an infant to Cedarburg after his birth in 1919, and the family moved into a quarried stone house built in 1865 by Ed’s great grandfather, Eilert Stallman, across Columbia Road from the Columbia Mill.  The mill site is now occupied by Ozaukee Bank.

He and Alda both attended Cedarburg High School.  Even before high school Ed had joined the school camera club and he began snapping pictures around the town with his folding Kodak, a camera he still owns.

In 1939, Ed opened a photograph studio on Washington Avenue just northeast of Immanuel Lutheran Church.  When Cedarburg residents brought him old photographs to be copied, he would ask permission to keep a print and negative.

Thus began his collection of historic views of Cedarburg and surrounding places.  The collection now includes more than 2,200 images and many of these have become widely known through Ed’s two books, “Reflections of Old Cedarburg,” printed in 1994, followed by “More Reflections of Old Cedarburg,” in 2002, both published by the Cultural Center.

In addition, some of the images in the Rappold collection have been reproduced as post cards and they have illustrated articles and books about Cedarburg.  Ed has been in demand for years to give his slide show of old Cedarburg to groups throughout Ozaukee County.

Last year, Ed gave the entire collection of photographs to the Cultural Center.  A selection of Cedarburg scenes was printed and mounted in a special display for the Civic Celebration. The negatives are protected in a vault at the Ozaukee Bank.

As it happens, when the Cultural Center was founded in 1988 and occupied the first floor of the Lincoln Building, the old elementary school, images from Ed’s collection formed the first major exhibit.  
After serving as a photographer in the Army Air Corps in World War II, Ed returned to Cedarburg.  In 1951 he became the company photographer for the Wisconsin Electric Power Co., the precursor to WE Energies, of Milwaukee, and he remained there until retirement in 1983. 

But he was always a Cedarburger.  While Ed was in the service, the old stone house was sold, and Ed and Alda built a new house on Bridge Road not far west of the old place.  They lived there until moving to a condominium on Pioneer Court.

In addition to being a photographer, Ed helped shape the city in many other ways.  He served as a Cedarburg Alderman for 28 years, under Mayors Merlin Rostad, E. Stephan Fischer and Quentin Schenk. He believes that may be the longest tenure for an elected official in Cedarburg’s history. During that time he was chairman of many city boards and commissions.

As a member of the Peter Wollner Post of the American Legion, he drove the Legion Ambulance for years; he has been a volunteer fireman since 1940 and still has breakfast at the firehouse regularly; he led a Boy Scout troop, was president of the Ozaukee County Historical Society, and was a founding member of Faith Lutheran Church, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Ed received a check for $1,000 as the Civic Award recipient, which he immediately recycled into Cedarburg’s projects by directing that $300 of it go to the Rivoli Theatre restoration project, $300 to the Cultural Center and $400 to the Cedarburg Foundation.   He also received a commemorative plate showing the 1855 Hilgen-Schroeder Mill.

Also at the Civic Event, Foundation President Jim Coutts reported in his annual state of the foundation report that the foundation’s endowment fund had reached more than $700,000 and that the foundation had made a recent grant of $25,000 to be paid out at $5,000 a year for five years for the renovation of the Boy Scout House.

Entertainment for the evening featured the Cedarburg High School Swing Choir under the direction of Victoria Benson.  Quiet jazz was played by Vic DiCristo on the bass viol and Tony Gorenc on the guitar during hors d’oeurvres.

Sponsors of the evening were Calibre Inc., Grafton, and Carlson Tool, Ozaukee Bank and Terrace Realty, all of Cedarburg.


2006 Civic Award Recipient: Bob Armbruster Honored

Bob Armbruster, whose family has operated Armbruster Jewelers on Cedarburg’s Washington Avenue since 1884, received The Cedarburg Foundation’s fourth annual Civic Award at the foundation’s annual civic celebration February 19, 2006.

Armbruster was recognized for his lifelong contributions to Cedarburg’s quality of life. He is widely sought as a local historian. He and his wife Mary Aileen have overseen the restoration of the 1904 white terra cotta jewelry store to its early 20th century décor. His cheerful demeanor has been a presence on Washington Avenue for decades.

Bob is the third generation of Armbrusters to operate the jewelry store. His grandfather John Armbruster came to Cedarburg from the Black Forest region of southwest Germany in 1882 to play clarinet in the Weber Brewery Band of Cedarburg. He opened his jewelry and music store in 1884.

Grandfather John was mayor of Cedarburg for 16 years. He also served as county board chairman, secretary of the fire department, secretary of the Turnverein and he was an avid booster of local businesses. One of his sons, also named John, Bob’s father, ran the store until 1946.

Bob was born in 1920 and lived until adulthood in a large apartment above the jewelry store along with his grandparents, his parents, two sisters and his brother John. That was typical for Washington Avenue in that day, when many families who ran downtown businesses lived above their stores.

The language upstairs was German, although German was being heard less and less on the street. Bob and his siblings attended elementary grades in the Lincoln Building, now the Cedarburg Senior Center, and high school in the present City Hall, both buildings across the street from the jewelry store.

He and his brother John returned from the service in late 1945 and ran the store together for 25 years, when John left to become City Clerk under Mayor Stephen Fischer. Bob and the former Mary Aileen Behnke, a Marquette University-trained medical technician, were married in 1949.

In 1952, they built their present home on St. John Street where they raised their four children, Joan, John, Wendy and Peter. All are married and Bob and Mary Aileen have 11 grandchildren.

Bob has been an active member and leader in the Lions Club, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, Wisconsin Jewelers Association, and the Peter Wollner Post of the American Legion. In some cases his membership dates back more than 50 years.


2005 Civic Award Recipient: Ralph J. Huiras Honored

Ralph J. Huiras

Lawyer, retired banker and philanthropist Ralph J. Huiras received the third annual Cedarburg Foundation civic award at a banquet held in his honor at the Cedarburg Cultural Center February 17, 2005.

About 200 persons attended the celebration, which included an annual report by Foundation President Duey Stroebel, wine, cheese and desserts, a silent auction, and quiet jazz by Vic DiCristo and Tony Gorenc. The Cedarburg High School Swing Choir presented Broadway show tunes as entertainment.

The audience included many friends and family members of Huiras, including his daughter, Lynn Ferguson of Portland, Oregon, and his son, Peter, of the town of Cedarburg. Friends included representatives of some of Huiras’ favorite charities, including Joseph D. Kearney, dean of Marquette University’s Law School; Jerold F. Voigt, chairman of the town of Cedarburg, and Lisa Froemming, vice president of institutional advancement for the Columbia-St. Mary’s Hospital Foundation.

Except for seven years when he served as an FBI agent during and after World War II, Huiras has lived in Ozaukee County. His grandfather was a diary farmer and his father was an Ozaukee County judge.

After high school in Port Washington, Huiras attended Marquette Law School, then joined the FBI. While serving in Miami, Florida, he met his future wife, Marianne Ledgerwood, of Knoxville, Tennessee, who was working for Pan Am airlines. They returned to Ozaukee County in 1947. Ralph opened his law office in Port Washington and the couple later bought an 80-acre farm in the town of Cedarburg, where they raised their children.

Huiras has been chairman of the town of Cedarburg, Ozaukee County board chairman, president of the Colonial Bank and attorney for the town of Cedarburg. His philanthropy and includes financing for the Columbia-St. Mary’s-Ozaukee Hospital free clinic, the town of Cedarburg’s new town hall and electronic classrooms at Marquette Law School.

He is a member of the Divine Word Catholic Church at Five Corners where his wife Marianne played the organ. Marianne died in 1997.

Huiras received a commemorative plate crafted by Cedarburg potter Dave Eitel. He also received $1,000, which he donated to the Cultural Center.

As it has in former years, Ozaukee Bank sponsored the evening.

Huiras Presentation

Ozaukee County Philanthropist Ralph J. Huiras was the recipient of the Greater Cedarburg Foundation’s 2005 Civic Award. Shown here are, from left, Paul Hayes, Foundation board member, Duey Stroebel, Foundation president; Ralph J. Huiras; and his son and daughter, Peter Huiras and Lynn Ferguson, who hold a drawing of the Town of Cedarburg’s new town hall.

--Photo by Deb Kranitz

Ralph Huiras

Susan Barnett, executive director of the Cedarburg Cultural Center, greets Ralph J. Huiras, at the Cedarburg Foundation’s annual civic celebration.

--Photo by Deb Kranitz


2004 Civic Award Recipient: Carl Edquist Honored

Carl Edquist

Carl W. Edquist (center) acknowledges congratulations from the audience at the Cedarburg Cultural Center February 29, 2004, after receiving the annual civic award of the Greater Cedarburg Community Foundation. Carl is flanked by Paul G. Hayes (left), who introduced Carl and holds the commemorative plate presented to Carl, and Mal Hepburn (right), president of the foundation.

--Photo by Sarah Hall

More than 200 persons gathered at the Cedarburg Cultural Center on February 26, 2004 to honor Carl W. Edquist, the recipient of the 2004 Civic Award of the Cedarburg Foundation. All his children, some of their spouses, two brothers and several grandchildren were in attendance.

Carl has been a quiet, effective source of good things in Cedarburg for many decades. He is a successful industrialist, having founded the Carlson Tool Co. here in 1958. He is a successful parent, the father of eight children and grandfather of 19. The partnership of Carl and Rita Edquist lent essential support to Cedarburg's cultural and artistic life until Rita’s death in 2001. They were the primary founders and longtime benefactors of the Cedarburg Cultural Center. Carl continues the Edquist family legacy of public giving today.

Carl was born in 1918 in a two-room house in Saskatchewan, Canada, the oldest child of Swedish parents. He lived in Canada for 10 years and memories of his Canadian childhood remain the subject of many stories he tells his children and grandchildren today.

A series of droughts drove the family off the farm and the Edquists immigrated to the United States, settling eventually in northern Indiana. Carl was graduated from high school at the age of 16 and then held a series of jobs in the Great Depression, including, at the age of 18, at the Wilbar Manufacturing Co., Chesterton, Indiana, where he learned tool and die making. It was on an outing with friends to the nearby Indiana Dunes that Carl met Rita Anne Valenzano, a budding young artist of Chicago, and thus began a long courtship that culminated in their marriage in 1944 during World War II.

In early 1945, Carl was recruited as a tool and die maker at the Los Alamos Laboratory, which assembled the first atomic bombs. Rita, pregnant with their first child Paul moved in with her parents in Chicago. The mission of Los Alamos was so secret that it could not be discussed even with family members, but it became apparent on July 16, 1945, when the first human-caused atomic explosion took place at Alamogordo, New Mexico. This led quickly to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the end of the war.

Carl worked in Chicago and Milwaukee and moved his family to rural Cedarburg in 1947. Carl founded Carlson Tool and Manufacturing Co. in 1958. Today its president and chief executive officer is Jerry Edquist, Carl’s son.

Carl Edquist is a founding member of Forward Cedarburg, a founding board member of the Ozaukee Bank, founder of the Carlson Fine Arts Foundation in the 1980s, and he and Rita were the essential founders of the Cedarburg Cultural Center. He donated land for the Ozaukee Ice Center in 1995, and began the Rita Edquist Memorial Fund in 2001 to "support with grants and scholarships the visual and performing arts benefiting residents of the City and Town of Cedarburg…." He was a founding contributor to the Cedarburg Foundation, and he has contributed to many other civic projects and programs.

Since Rita’s death, he has become curator of her life’s production of art, and he arranged for her paintings, drawings and sculptures to be exhibited in 2003 at the Cultural Center in a major show called "Rita, a Retrospective."


2003 Civic Award Recipient: Merlin G. Rostad

Merlin Rostad

On February 27, 2003, the Greater Cedarburg Community Foundation presented Merlin G. Rostad with the first annual Cedarburg Civic Award. The award was presented at the Foundations Civic Celebration held at the Cedarburg Cultural Center. The Civic Award recognized Merlin as a leading citizen of the Cedarburg community for more than 50 years. He is an involved and longtime resident of Cedarburg who was also honored as a successful industrialist, artist and former Cedarburg mayor.

Merlin Rostad exemplifies the qualities that have made Cedarburg the special place it is, including public service, leadership and generosity. A man of many talents, he is civic leader, successful industrialist and artist at the same time. He was an early supporter of the Cedarburg Foundation and helped us get off to an impressive start, said Paul Hayes, foundation board member, who introduced Merlin at the civic awards night.

After graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1942, Merlin settled in Cedarburg in 1949, where he became interested in pursuing public affairs. Shortly after, he was appointed to the Planning Commission and started his own precision aluminum mold-making company in 1953. Rostad Aluminum Corp. continues to operate successfully under the management of the Rostad family. Besides proving himself an accomplished artist and businessman, Merlin served two successful terms as mayor of Cedarburg from 1958 to1966. In addition to his involvement in Cedarburg, Merlin has served on the boards of Luther Manor for 10 years, Wisconsin College of Music for18 years, and the Milwaukee Art Museum, also for 10 years.

Merlin is also highly recognized throughout the Cedarburg community for his one true passion, art. He merged his career in precision metal work with his artistic talents to create large aluminum sculptures. His artwork can be seen in collections at the Mayo Clinic and Concordia College in Moorehead, MN, his alma mater.

On August 11, 2003, Merlin and Gladys Rostad celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. The Rostads have three children and five grandchildren.

The Cedarburg Civic Award will be presented each year to an individual who has provided outstanding support to the Foundation.


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