Faces of the Wisconsin Academy Legacy | wisconsinacademy.org
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Faces of the Wisconsin Academy Legacy

Inside the Academy

For Wisconsin Academy members well versed in Academy history, these faces are likely familiar ones. Newer members might not know these pioneers of the Wisconsin Academy legacy, or why they warrant great respect for their personal achieve- ments and merits: three remarkable scientists, one brilliant musician, and an accomplished educator and businesswoman. For longtime as well as new members, it might be enough to know why these five should be celebrated for having grand visions for the Wisconsin Academy during their lifetimes—and beyond.

Harry Steenbock 1886-1967

Most widely known for his discoveries surrounding Vitamin D, longtime Wisconsin Academy member Dr. Harry Steenbock provided means for our organization to take a giant step forward. By leaving approximately $1 million worth of stocks and bonds from his estate, the Wisconsin Academy was able to hire its first full-time executive director and a small support staff with the earnings from these investments. In the long run, Harry’s gift would also be used to purchase our current home at 1992 Univer- sity Avenue in Madison.

Elizabeth McCoy 1903–1978

Dr. Elizabeth McCoy gave greatly to the mission of the Wisconsin Academy. In her work at UW–Madison, she became internation- ally known for her contributions to microbiology. As a member of the Wisconsin Academy, she served as president of the Wisconsin Academy Council (our governing board), and as editor for our journal Transactions. Elizabeth gave generously during her life- time, even contributing $25,000 in 1973 for renovations to our office space. However, her largest gift came after she passed away when the organization received $200,000 for its endowment fund.

Gunnar Johansen 1906–1991

When Gunnar Johansen arrived at UW–Madison in 1939, he was appointed the first artist-in-residence in music at any school in America. He shared his gifts as a pianist, teacher, and composer at the University until he retired in 1976. As a Wisconsin Academy Fellow, Gunnar had a passionate energy for studying the intersection of the arts and sciences, which culminated in his founding The Leonardo Academy in the early 1960s. Gunnar and his wife Lorraine left half of their estate to the Wisconsin Academy Foundation for the development of a Leonardo Lecture series with focus on interdisciplinary studies. This series will be inaugurated upon the sale of property the Johansen’s owned in northern California.

Ira Baldwin 1895–1999

Dr. Ira Baldwin was described by the late Conrad Elvehjem as “quiet and self-effacing.” A professor of Agricultural Bacteri- ology at UW–Madison, Baldwin was another longtime member of the Wisconsin Academy. Active in the Council, Baldwin was instrumental in creating the Wisconsin Academy Foundation, a separate nonprofit organization responsible for managing and growing the Wisconsin Academy’s endowment fund. In their joint estate, Ira, and his wife Ineva, left the Wisconsin Academy Foundation’s endowment fund more than $1.1 million.

Nancy Noeske 1937–2012

Nancy Noeske began her career as a teacher and administrator, but eventually became a vice president for Wisconsin Electric Power. Her first involvement with the Wisconsin Academy came as a member in the 1970s. In 1983, she joined the Wisconsin Academy Council, and in 1994, joined the Wisconsin Academy Foundation Board of Directors. Dedicated to science, education, and the mission of the Wisconsin Academy, she has bestowed a sizeable contribution from her estate to the endowment fund. When her estate is settled and her gift becomes realized, it will help provide ongoing consistent support to the basic operations of the Wisconsin Academy.

Harry, Elizabeth, Gunnar, Ira, and Nancy all chose to invest in the Wisconsin Academy. Finding distinguished value in the mission, work, and cultural contributions of this organization, they entrusted the Wisconsin Academy with their resources by leaving legacy gifts to the Wisconsin Academy Foundation. Just as each believed the Wisconsin Academy plays—and will continue to play—a significant role in shaping the future or our state, each wanted to give us the opportunity to pursue a loftier vision to spark creativity, explore Wisconsin innovation, and inspire life-long learning. In their own unique ways, these five members have left meaningful imprints on the Wisconsin Academy and our ability to fulfill the mission they believed in. The endowment fund they helped to build at the Wisconsin Academy Foundation supports our work to explore and foster Wisconsin art and literature, to expand public understanding of how science shapes our lives, and to preserve our cultural and natural heritage here in Wisconsin. Their gifts stretch our imag- ination, improve our civic engagement, and make our state a better place to live.

We wish to express our sincere gratitude to these individuals and all who have remembered the Wisconsin Academy in their estate plans. These forward-thinking contributors took bold steps as an expression of their belief in this organization’s ability to create a better Wisconsin. Their gifts allow us to carry out our mission on a daily basis. 

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