As retired vice chairman and co-founder of Fiduciary Management which manages more than $12 billion in assets, Donald S. Wilson is a favorite target for philanthropic requests.
Wilson, 69, a Northwestern University Trustee and former Evanston resident will receive the university's Alumni Service to Society Award at a banquet Saturday evening at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago.
Not only is Wilson, 69, generous in helping nonprofits in southeastern Wisconsin, where he lives, his efforts extend beyond his checkbook.
“While it is easy for many successful individuals to simply write checks, Don’s signature response beyond any financial commitment is quite genuinely, ‘How else can I help out?’” Richard Dean, a longtime friend and a member of the Northwestern Board of Trustees, told the university.
Another way Wilson helps: the Brookfield resident shares his 45 years of financial expertise while serving on boards of directors for nonprofits such as religious orders, arts groups including the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and the Ten Chimneys Foundation, and diverse groups such as a regional Boy Scouts Council and Elmbrook Rotary Club.
According to information provided by Wilson's wife, Kate Wilson, and Northwestern:
A Kentland, Indiana native, Wilson served as a US Senate Page on Capitol Hill before he earned his bachelor's degree in economics and MBA from Northwestern University, respectively, in 1965 and 1967. He met his wife, Sharon Henriksen, in his freshman year History of Western Civilization class.
The two married in 1966 and had three children before the family moved from Evanston to the Milwaukee area when Richard Strong recruited Wilson to join the Nicholas Strong Inc. investment firm.
When Nicholas and Strong split ways, Wilson stayed with Nicholas until 1980 when Wilson and Ted Kellner founded their own investment firm, Fiduciary Management Inc. (FMI)
In 1995 Wilson's wife Sharon died from complications due to breast cancer. He remarried in 1997 to Kate Wilson. In 1998 the Wilson family pledged a major gift to breathe life into a vision for a community visual and performing arts facility to support Elmbrook Schools, private schools and Milwaukee area arts organizations.
The project was struggling to find lead gifts until Wilson stepped forward and pledges then started pouring in, according to a history of the center renamed the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts.
Donald and Kate Wilson remain involved in the arts center, volunteering where possible. Don Wilson called the Sharon Lynne one of his "most satisfying" pursuits.
"While this facility will remain a wonderful tribute to my late wife, Sharon, its mission constantly reinforces the importance of the arts in our society and as a descriptor of our society to future generations," he wrote in notes preparing for the Alumni award.
"Each time I enter the Center I am reminded, happily, of the impact the Center is having on the young and the older; children of all ages in our broader Southeastern Wisconsin community."
He also sponsored for a quarter-century a high school and college private youth soccer club called FMI Soccer, and financed development of soccer parks and playing fields.
Wilson retired from Fiduciary Management in 2010 after 30 years at its helm. He and Kate remain in Brookfield, with their three children and 10 grandchildren in the Milwaukee area.
More information about Northwestern University's Alumni Service to Society Award can be found here.