Wisconsin Foundation Inherits a Cheese Factory, Creates a Legacy

What do you do if you are gifted a fully operational cheese factory?

Flickr Creative Commons photo by   Roxanne Ready   .

Flickr Creative Commons photo by Roxanne Ready.

The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region in Wisconsin recently received that unusual estate gift and developed a strategy to both keep the factory in business and create an endowed fund that will support the donor’s philanthropic wishes for generations to come.

Marilynn Taylor of New London, Wis., was president of Wohlt Creamery LLC, a manufacturer of processed cheeses and one of the city’s 10 largest employers.

She died Feb. 25, 2017, at age 71, leaving her entire business, including the building, equipment, 60 employees and a lot of cheese, in the care of her estate representative and the Community Foundation. 

The foundation found a buyer for the business, and kept all workers employed — ensuring that it remained a stable employer.

What’s more, the sale of the cheese processing business and manufacturing facility will net the Community Foundation about $5.8 million. In addition, the foundation received additional assets from Taylor totaling about $2.5 million.

That money established the Marilynn W. Taylor/Wohlt Cheese Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, an endowment that will award grants to reflect Taylor’s charitable interests. The permanent fund will support:

  • Lawrence University in Appleton, for scholarships awarded to students from Northeast Wisconsin with preference given to students from New London, Weyauwega and Fremont.

  • Funding for the general benefit of the city of New London, village of Fremont and nearby townships for the purpose of fulfilling community needs and benefitting its residents.

This isn’t the first significant estate gift at the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region to make news recently.

The foundation has also been the beneficiary of a $100 million endowed gift from the estate of David L. and Rita Nelson. The endowed gift is one of the largest ever made to a community foundation — and stands as one of the largest charitable gifts in the U.S. in 2018.