Giving Back to the Community That Helped Shape Him

Wynn Davies' Legacy

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When Wynn Davies arrived in Madison in 1950 as a 17-year-old college freshman, he met a much wider world than he had experienced growing up in the small village of Garden Prairie, Illinois. It was a world that he found fascinating, and that shaped his life in ways large and small.

“Madison and the University of Wisconsin were calling me from an early age,” Wynn explained. “My mother graduated from the University in the 1920s and I always assumed that someday I too would be heading to Madison to begin my own adventure there.”

Wynn lived in an historic Victorian house on Mills Street that served as the Baptist Student Center. His housemates were a diverse group of students whose life experiences were wide-ranging and very far from what Wynn had experienced in his rural midwestern life.

“My first roommate was a Palestinian refugee. I got to know African American students who had grown up in America’s ‘apartheid’ south, and a refugee who had escaped from Estonia by boat just ahead of the oncoming Russian army,” Wynn recalled. “I met a graduate student who had been a pilot in Japan’s air force, and men who had chosen to be conscientious objectors during the Second World War.”

Wynn also met a girl named Loree from Wisconsin’s Northwoods when they both were assigned to peel potatoes at the Baptist Student Center’s eating cooperative. Wynn and Loree married in 1954, the day after Wynn graduated from UW-Madison.

Called to Serve

Their church and faith remained a vital element throughout Wynn’s and Loree’s lives. “I feel that I was called to public service, and to work for social and economic justice in the same way that others are called to become pastors,” Wynn shared.

After several years of service in the U.S. Army, and with a graduate degree in Public Administration, Wynn and Loree returned home to Madison. At the time, Wisconsin was attempting to bring more professional public management expertise to the state’s civil service. It was a natural fit for Wynn. “I felt that a career in social welfare and social justice suited my values and faith,” Wynn explained, “so I took a position in the state’s human service agency.”

As their children got older, Loree was able to pursue her career in occupational therapy, and they settled in to enjoy all that Madison had to offer.

Wynn and Loree took early retirement to focus on the things that meant the most to them, especially spending time together and with their grandchildren. For Wynn, retirement also meant becoming more involved in his church’s social justice work. Through this, he learned about community development loan funds, which led him to help start the Dane Fund, which is known today as Forward Community Investments. He was its first president.

Planning a Lasting Legacy

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“As Loree and I looked to the future, beyond our lives here on Earth, we agreed that it would be important for us to give back to our community, and to the University of Wisconsin – both of which had given so much to us,” Wynn shared. “We owe Madison a great deal because of its influence on making us who we are and what we’ve done.”

Loree passed away in 2017, and in 2020, Wynn established a fund at MCF to honor those intentions.

The Loree and Wynn Davies Family Fund supports MCF’s Community Impact Fund. Wynn intends to further grow the fund through their estate, leaving a legacy of support to the community that nurtured his family and helped expand his horizons and shape him into the person he is today.

“Madison Community Foundation is an excellent way to give back,” Wynn said. “It offers a wide variety of options to use our estate to support work that matches our values and passion for social and economic justice, as well as the many things that make Madison such a wonderful place to live and grow.”

Giving to the Community Impact Fund also reassures Wynn his giving will remain relevant long into the future. “MCF’s staff is devoted to understanding the needs of the community – they know where the money can have the most impact on my goals even as those needs shift.”

Watch Anne share her story here.

Learn how to start a fund at MCF.