Nancy and Bob Davis first met in the Fox Cities, where he was working after graduating from Carleton College and serving as an officer aboard a Navy destroyer. Nancy was born in Menasha and attended UW-Madison. They eventually settled in Lake Bluff, Ill., where Bob’s family operated the American Encyclopedia Company, a publisher of encyclopedias and children’s books. Together, Nancy and Bob raised five children – Rob, Martha, Cole, Sarah and Laura, and were incredibly civically active. Bob founded the Rotary Club of Lake Bluff and Lake Forest in 1960 and served as village president.
Their family spent summers in Ephraim, sailing almost every day and hiking the wild places as they deepened their roots in Door County. Nancy and Bob both taught classes at The Clearing in winter. Nancy is a gifted artist, having taught courses at The Clearing and the Peninsula School of Art.
After a very public life in Lake Bluff, Nancy and Bob’s civic engagement in Door County was more low-key as they quietly served our community operating in the background. Nevertheless, they have left their mark on their beloved Door County, where they moved permanently in 1995. In Ephraim, it is a mark of respect to be named Fyr Ball Chieftain. Each of them received this honor, Bob in 1999 and Nancy in 2012. Although couples have been awarded the honor simultaneously, so great is their service to the community that the Village of Ephraim decided to honor each of these good people individually.
Nancy and Bob have been generous with their time and resources to many organizations over the years, including the Ephraim Yacht Club, The Clearing, the Ridges, Peninsula School of Art, and the Door County Land Trust – to mention just a few. Nancy and Bob are great examples of true philanthropy, people who do not seek the limelight but are deeply involved in the community in ways that are tremendously important.
As year-round residents, Nancy and Bob believe Door County is truly a special place. They said it doesn’t matter what you did in your other life, in Door County all are equal, brought together by our common interests. The Davises are generous and truly philanthropic because they believe “it’s the right thing to do.” Recognition is unimportant. What is important is supporting the place and the people you love.
The Door County Community Foundation is pleased to celebrate and honor Nancy and Bob Davis as the 2015 Philanthropists of the Year. The Davises were honored at the annual Celebration of Giving, held June 24 at the Horseshoe Bay Golf Club in Egg Harbor.