In 1994 Virginia and Wallis Austin decided to make a charitable gift to the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation. Today, the fund established by that decision provides grants annually to nine nonprofits and will continue to do so in perpetuity. The power of planned giving has never been more eloquently expressed than in Virginia’s commitment to supporting the fund during her lifetime and with a planned gift at her death.

The Wallis Austin and Virginia Bennett Austin Fund now benefits the Community Chest Endowment Fund, the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, The Nineteenth Century Club’s Benevolence Fund, the University of Chicago Alumni Fund, the National Louis University Annual Fund, Alpha Delta Phi Foundation, Oak Park & River Forest High School Scholarship Foundation, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation and the charitable endowment of the Oak Park River Forest Community Foundation.

 Wallis Austin was one of the original donors to the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation.  He was instrumental in its establishment.  Wallis and Virginia’s original gift represented the interest that both had in the community foundation concept. After Wallis died, Virginia wanted to insure that local agencies would continue to receive her support long after she was gone. We made sure her fund would provide for that through the Community Foundation with a very specific fund agreement. She added a provision for a testamentary gift to increase the fund’s ability to provide for those nonprofits that she and Wallis supported.

 The Austin family has roots in the area that go back to 1860 when it was known as Oak Ridge. Wallis served for twenty years as chairman of the board of Oak Park Trust & Savings Bank which had been established in 1890 by his father, Henry Warren Austin. Wallis was dedicated to community service as a philanthropist, serving on a number of nonprofit boards. He also was instrumental in local politics, helping Oak Park move from partisan political parties to the current village manager and governing board structure.  Virginia was an active, vibrant woman involved in Oak Park philanthropic groups including Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, The 19th Century Club, Infant Welfare and the Day Nursery of Oak Park and River Forest. Her planned gift sustains her legacy of involvement and service to the community and reflects the Austin family tradition of dedication to making Oak Park a better place to live.

 With a planned gift you can have an impact far beyond one lifespan and provide assets for the future, leaving a legacy of support and commitment to the community that you have helped to shape. To discuss the possibilities, please call us at 708-848-1560.

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