Youngwirths build legacy of community support now, for the future

Back in the day when Wayne and Suzanne Youngwirth were youngsters in Oshkosh, a strong work ethic was something people celebrated. The upbringing they experienced has instilled in them a drive to do well for themselves and for their community. It's something that just comes naturally.

"That's what makes life go 'round," says Suzanne, a retired nurse. "We have gotten a lot from this community, and we give back."

Throughout their 38 years together, the Youngwirths have given generously of their time through community organizations and programs. The Wayne and Suzanne Youngwirth Endowment Fund, a Donor Advised Fund, allows the couple to provide financial resources to charitable causes they're passionate about – things like downtown revitalization and youth mentoring. The Youngwirths built the fund over time, starting from an Acorn Fund in 1996 (the Foundation's first).

Through their estate plan, the Youngwirths' have directed a large portion of their investment portfolio to be gifted to the Fund after they're gone, ensuring their legacy of support will continue "I just love Oshkosh and I love the history," says Wayne, a manufacturing representative with his firm Youngwirth & Associates. "I've traveled extensively for years, including Europe. We have had several opportunities to leave, but we're staying."

"Failure was not an option. (My father) never said that, but we knew it and you didn't want to embarrass him." – Wayne Youngwirth

The Youngwirth (originally spelled Jungwirth) family immigrated from Bohemia (Czech Republic). Wayne's great-grandfather sanded caskets at the Buckstaff Co. while his great-grandmother tended to a brood of 17 children. Wayne's grandfather, Frank "Butch" Youngwirth, was the oldest.

A tall, intimidating man, Butch amassed a fortune as a bootlegger during the Prohibition era, running at least six taverns in Oshkosh. He gambled his earnings away and died penniless, Wayne says.

Wayne's father chose the opposite path in life, working as a janitor in Oshkosh schools in addition to a myriad of side jobs. "I grew up on the South Side, where everyone went to work at 7 and came home at 3:30," says Wayne. "My dad was home every night. We lived in a very nice house, very well kept up and he taught us principles, that work was part of the social fabric."

Each of the children had jobs from an early age. They were paid for their work, but Wayne's father insisted that 50 percent went into savings. "At age 16, you got that money," says Wayne. "I still have mine – it's buried somewhere in my investments."

Wayne believes strongly that his upbringing led to his success, and the success of each of his siblings, several of whom have owned their own businesses and are sought after experts in their fields.

He and Suzanne are proud to invest in the community that has given so much to them. "You always want your hometown to do well," Wayne says.

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