On June 26, 2013, the Door County Community Foundation hosted its annual Celebration of Giving at Horseshoe Bay Golf Club in Egg Harbor. One-hundred-seventy-five guests gathered to honor Spencer and Barbara Gould as Door County’s 2013 Philanthropists of the Year.
Spencer’s family has deep roots in the Door County community, so it was no surprise when Barbara and Spencer moved to Door County in 1988. Since their arrival they have been engaged leaders and benefactors of the American Folklore Theatre, Peninsula Singers, Midsummer’s Music, the Ephraim Foundation, the YMCA, Northern Door Child Care, the Ridges Sanctuary, the Land Trust, the Peninsula Music Festival and too many other organizations to list here.
Every year at the Celebration of Giving, it is my responsibility as president & CEO of the Community Foundation to say a few final words before we adjourn until next year’s event. Failing to come up with any original or inspirational thought of my own, I decided to seek out Anne Emerson for inspiration. In addition to being a good friend of the Goulds, Anne was also the 2012 Philanthropist of the Year.
For those of you who haven’t had the joy of meeting Anne Emerson, think of her as the Johnny Appleseed of Door County. She wanders around the community, planting little seeds of inspiration everywhere she goes.
When asked what she admires most about the Goulds, Anne used three simple words to describe them – humility, intelligence and compassion.
Humility because Spencer and Barbara treat every person they meet with dignity and respect. Intelligence because they have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge that pushes their interests in all sorts of fascinating directions. And compassion because they give so much of themselves not only to help their friends and neighbors, but also through their support of charities that will serve those they will never personally know.
Compassion. They have empathy for the less fortunate of our world and that drives them to step forward to help. Intelligence. All of them have a thirst for knowledge and wisdom and they put that to use for the benefit of our community. Humility. Each of them recognizes that sometimes “there but for the grace of God” is all that separates the haves from the have-nots.
These are the characteristics of the great philanthropists of our world. It was right that we honored Spencer and Barbara Gould. But to truly do honor to their generosity, it matters little what we said or did yesterday, unless it inspires us to live like them tomorrow.