Giving Back, a Way of Life

Cathy and Ralph Middlecamp

photo of Ralph and Cathy Middlecamp

For Cathy and Ralph Middlecamp, giving back to their community is a way of life. “It is a core value of ours to take what we need, but not be extravagant,” Cathy explained. This allows them to make charitable gifts to causes they care about.

Cathy, originally from Queens, New York, met Ralph at UW-Madison when she attended graduate school in the 1970s. They married and settled down in Madison to pursue their careers, Cathy as a lecturer in the UW‑Madison Chemistry Department, and Ralph as an executive with St. Vincent de Paul.

Honoring Their Son Through Giving

The Middlecamps lost John, their only child, to childhood leukemia in the 1990s. Both Cathy and Ralph wanted to honor his memory, so it felt right to create a fund named after him with MCF.

Today, the John Middlecamp Memorial Fund supports places John cared about, including Red Caboose, his daycare center, the Baraboo Range, where he loved playing in the woods with his friends, and Holy Wisdom Monastery, where he is buried.

“Having these conversations about the fund has helped us remember John,” said Cathy. “It keeps bringing him back to us — we didn’t expect that.”

Because the John Middlecamp Memorial Fund is designated to support specific organizations, Cathy and Ralph can grow the fund by making qualified charitable distributions from their individual retirement accounts.

“It doesn’t ever come into our taxable income, so it’s a sensible way to make donations,” Ralph observed.

A Second Fund Supports Current Passions

In late 2021, the couple established a second permanent fund — the Cathy and Ralph Middlecamp Fund — which supports some of their current passions, including the local and national councils of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, The Nature Conservancy, the UW Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and causes that benefit women and girls in our community through MCF’s A Fund for Women.

Cathy and Ralph take a long-term perspective on their philanthropy and have named each of their funds as beneficiaries in their estate plan. Their endowments at Madison Community Foundation are a permanent legacy for their family — a way to benefit the causes that are meaningful to them for generations to come.

Learn how to start a fund at MCF.