The Jeffris Foundation
Making MLS&W #63 Restoration Possible
Text by Don Meyer
September 1 marks the end of the fund raising campaign to restore the Lake Shore coach. That is the deadline for matching the $175,000 challenge grant offered by the Jeffris Family Foundation in October 1998. It represents the largest single grant in Mid-Continent's forty year history.

Tom Jeffris, the Foundation's president, later confided that "This is one of the few times we gave more money than was asked for." For once Mid-Continent was in the right place at the right time.

Tom Jeffris (left) with Don Meyer.
Tom and his fellow trustees, Henry Fuldner and Charles Rydberg, were drawn to the Lake Shore project because of its link with Edward Colonna, an innovator of the Art Nouveau movement in turn-of-the-century Paris. "The project sold itself," he said. "Colonna gives it an international appeal."

The Jeffris Family Foundation was established by Tom's parents in 1979. His father was president and chairman of the board of the Parker Pen Company in Janesville. "They loved Wisconsin" and the Foundation became a way to benefit the community and people they loved.

Under Tom's leadership in 1990, the Foundation moved from general support to a greater focus on the decorative arts. Their subsequent commitment to preserve significant architectural treasures resulted in funding for such large scale projects as Villa Louis and Fairlawn. And now a Barney & Smith first class coach built for the Milwaukee, Lake Shore & Western Railway.

Tom has been very generous in describing the Lake Shore as "The most exciting project in the twenty plus years of the Foundation's existence." He has supported the campaign by promoting it to contacts in the media and by providing leads for possible donations. He has inverted that old cliché about "putting your money where your mouth is" by being one of the strongest advocates for a project primarily funded by his own Foundation. And for that he has earned our deepest gratitude.