Donor Stories

La Crosse Community Champions: Don and Barb Frank receive the 2023 Forever Friends Award

May 18, 2023

Jamie Schloegel, Chief Executive OfficerBy Jamie Schloegel, Chief Executive Officer

Don and Barb Frank, Recipients of the 2023 Forever Friends AwardWhen the La Crosse Community Foundation team was discussing nominations for this year’s Forever Friends Award, the Franks immediately came to mind. They were among the first people to start a donor-advised fund at the foundation back in 1995, and before that, they had already established a charitable remainder trust to benefit the foundation after their passing — thus their invitation to our Forever Society.

Don and Barb epitomize the meaning of giving. For decades they’ve not just shared their treasure but their time and talents for many causes.

A lifelong commitment to bettering the community

Barb is most notably known for her achievements in environmental and health matters. I don’t think there is a single environmental organization in the La Crosse area that wouldn’t name Barb as one of their best advocates.

Locally she can be credited for bluff land preservation and as the founding member of the local Sierra Club and Hixon Forest Nature Center. She also took her passion to Washington, DC, several times to lobby for natural resource protections and has served as a national Sierra Club board member.

Barb can also be credited for her leadership on the Lutheran Hospital board of trustees during the merger of Gundersen Clinic and Lutheran Hospital. Today, La Crosse has a world-class health system due in part to her vision.

Don is passionate about smart financial management. He volunteered for 22 years as a tax aide for AARP, helping hundreds — maybe even thousands — of local low- to moderate-income taxpayers with free tax preparation and filing.

Forever Friends of La Crosse Community Foundation

I love talking with Don about why he chooses to give through La Crosse Community Foundation. I’m pretty sure he has been one of our best referral sources — sharing with anyone who wants to listen to how the community foundation model helps ensure impactful giving to organizations that need help most.

Both use their broad understanding and knowledge to effect change but in quiet, humble ways. They are incredible role models for men, women, and young people looking for ways to give back.

There is no doubt that La Crosse will be a better place for those who come after us because of the generosity of Don and Barb Frank.


WXOW ‘s News 19 shares more about the Franks’ philanthropic journey.