Joe Joas did a great deal for the Chippewa Falls community that he loved so dearly during his long lifetime, and friends and family recalled much of it in paying him tribute when he died Dec. 11 at the age of 97. Now it is clear that Joas will continue helping the community indefinitely.
The Joas family and the Community Foundation of Chippewa County announced Friday that the bulk of Joas’ estate will be donated to charity, in the form of the creation of two endowment funds. The combined donation represents the largest single gift presented to the community through the Foundation since its creation.
Tom Joas, nephew of Joe, who is handling the estate for the family, said an exact amount of the donation has not yet been determined, as assets, including personal effects and considerable investments, are still being liquidated. However, he estimated the donation from Joe Joas’ estate to be between $1.5 and $2 million.
In addition, Joe helped his brother Francis, who died in Arizona in 1999, manage his investments. Tom said with the passing of Joe, money set aside in Francis’ endowment will now be coming back to Chippewa County. The addition of the Francis Joas funds put the total gift over $2 million, Tom Joas said.
With an endowment, the base amount of a donation is invested, with the return on the investments being used to benefit a cause or a charity on an annual basis, without ever touching the original principle amount. The donation will therefore benefit the community indefinitely.
Tom Joas said the gift is a reflection of Joe’s undying love for Chippewa Falls.
“He always told me, ‘I am so fortunate to have been born in Chippewa Falls,’” Joas said. “He would travel to so many places and say there’s nothing like this.”
Joe Joas did not found one of Chippewa Falls famous companies, nor invent a world-changing technology. His main employment in life was for Chippewa County, as the county land agent and later its Forests and Parks director. But he amassed a hefty nest egg with two disciplines: frugality and investments.
“Joe always told me, ‘We were products of the Depression, so we had to live frugally,’” Joas said.
But he didn’t just hide the money he didn’t spend.
“His passion and his hobby in life was investing,” Joas said. “Whenever one of us had anything to invest, we said, ‘Go talk to your uncle Joe; he’s good at that.’”
Francis recognized Joe’s talent as well. Proceeds from his estate went to Joe up until the time of Joe’s death. That’s when it was combined with Joe’s, according to Tom Joas.
“Our family is really proud of him and what he’s done,” Joas said of his uncle Joe. He noted that at the funeral people would talk to him about things Joe did for them or for the community that Tom didn’t even know about.
“Not only did he support the community, but now he’s done it with an endowment,” Joas said.
“Joe’s compassion and desire to give back to the community in such a meaningful way is very humbling and inspiring,” said Melinda Haun, executive director of the Community Foundation of Chippewa County. “His exceptionally generous gift is a testament to his lifetime of giving and the love he had for this community.”
The Community Foundation manages in excess of $7 million in assets, growing in perpetuity.
“The Community Foundation of Chippewa County is the trusted steward of over 140 funds created by individuals, families, organizations and businesses for charitable investment in our region’s communities. Grants are awarded from a percentage of investment earnings of endowed funds,” said Haun. “Grants and distributions address community needs support a broad range of organizations and interests including, but not limited to the areas of arts and culture, education, environment and recreation, health and youth related projects.”
For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.