Johnsons Park Fundraising Reaches Important Milestone
Diane Buck speakss about the Buck Foundation gift to the Johnsons Park Initiative

On his last day at Rotary before returning to his North Carolina roots, Past President Rick White announced that the Johnsons Park Initiative had reached an important fundraising milestone: nearly $1 million in funds and pledges.


While there is still some progress to be made toward the total goal of $1,230,000, the positive momentum achieved since the first of the year allows the Center for Resilient Cities to move into the project management phase to ensure an expeditious rehabilitation of the park. Some capital improvements will be made this year with completion of the project scheduled for 2015.


In his announcement, Past President Rick revealed the name of a previously anonymous family foundation whose pledge of $330,000 has contributed greatly to the fundraising momentum: The Buck Foundation. Diane Buck, wife of Rotarian David Buck, took the podium to deliver the following remarks:


David and I want to congratulate Rotary for its dedicated work to improve one of Milwaukee’s most challenged neighborhoods. The club completed work at the Brown Street Academy and several Rotarians remain engaged at the school. Now Rotary is wrapping up the fund raising for Johnsons Park. 


You might ask why David and I, through our family foundation, are willing to make a significant financial commitment to Johnsons Park. Forty years ago when we arrived here from the west coast, we were smitten with Milwaukee’s parks, although they seemed under used and underappreciated.  Through the years we have enjoyed Milwaukee’s parks for both active and passive recreation. 

My own interest and concern for Milwaukee County Parks is long standing.  Over the years I have worked with the Park People, Preserve Our Parks, and continue being committed to the restoration of Milwaukee’s historic monuments.  These experiences make me painfully aware of the multitude of challenges our parks confront.  From eroding budgets to increased public use, Milwaukee County Parks must meet these challenges with increased public/private partnerships. 


Johnsons Park is a wonderful example of the best of these partnerships.  Although this park project had its starts and stops, thanks to Rotary it will now be completed.


David and I would like to give a special thanks to Rotarians John Walker, Rick White, and Mary McCormick for their commitment to bring this fund raising project to fruition.


Past President Rick recognized all the donors which have brought the Johnsons Park fundraising to this milestone. In addition to RCM’s $100,000 pledge, which will be fulfilled through the Andrew Bell Grant, and the Buck Foundation contribution, the initiative has received support from:

  • Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation
  • The Brico Fund
  • Zilber Family Foundation
  • Brewers Community Foundation & Rickie Weeks
  • Anon Charitable Trust
  • Fund for Lake Michigan
  • Soref Charitable Trust
  • Preserve our Parks

Fundraising is also ongoing from the Friends of John C. Walker, whose donations will support the creation of a performance stage bearing John’s name in recognition of his commitment to this project up until the day of his passing. The Friends of John C. Walker include many Rotarians.


The club thanks all of the donors to the Johnsons Park Initiative, and all the Rotarians who worked to keep up the fundraising momentum.  Past President Joe Caruso has stepped in to take the reins with Rick leaving, and he will keep us updated as the Johnsons Park vision becomes reality.