Legacy in Action – Richard and Margaret Osborn

Richard and Margaret Osborn were educators, both born in states other than Wisconsin. Richard was a professor at UW Oshkosh for many years, teaching art classes. Margaret worked in the Oshkosh public school system.

When they passed away, unbeknownst to many of the charities which received gifts, they left a sizable estate. With no children of their own, they chose to quietly work with a local bank to establish a trust in order to carry out their wishes.

Richard passed away in 2009 and Margaret, more recently, in July 2021. The impact of their gift is felt throughout the community and beyond, as they chose 16 organizations to receive gifts from their estate, the majority of which were located in the Oshkosh area. In a nod to their past, they also left a gift to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where Richard achieved his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree.

The Oshkosh Public Museum received part of the bequest and an endowment fund was established at the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation. Sarah Phillips, the museum director, was pleasantly surprised to learn of the gift to the museum’s endowment fund, held at the Foundation. She states, “I got goosebumps at that moment and I was thinking to myself, oh my goodness, someone is noticing our work!” The impact on their endowment fund will be felt for years to come, as it will allow museum staff to explore additional exhibits or new programming to reach visitors with educational outreach projects.

She went on to say, “Bequests can be a game changer. When we receive a gift like this, it will always be used for a traveling exhibition, to co-fund a large permanent exhibition, or to expand our educational programs, especially for school-age children. Our goal is to take a proactive and responsive approach and create our programs to honor all the people who have come before us, both indigenous and European settlers of Oshkosh. We see this as a continuation of the Sawyer legacy, by delivering meaningful experiences to benefit the public. We are grateful the Osborns thought of the Oshkosh Public Museum in their estate plan.”

“What is a Legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.”

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Playwright and Composer, Hamilton

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