The Ruth St. John and John Dunham West Foundation of Manitowoc, Wisc., has awarded the HCEA a grant of $75,000 to establish an endowment fund in the name of John D. West for engineering student scholarships, which will be funded by proceeds from the investment of the fund.
Half of the grant to the HCEA has been donated to the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc Foundation in respect for the West Foundation’s focus on local giving. UW-Manitowoc is a two-year college, and students pursuing degrees beyond an Associate of Arts and Sciences transfer to baccalaureate schools to complete those degrees. Interest generated by the monies donated to the UW-Manitowoc Foundation will fund an annual scholarship for engineering students who transfer to such schools in pursuit of their degrees.
“I’m extremely pleased that the HCEA decided to make this investment in our students,” said Dan Campagna, UW-Manitowoc dean and CEO. “Scholarships are extremely valuable tools for students as they finance their education, and our engineering students are certainly fortunate to have the collaborative support of the HCEA.”
The other half has been placed on deposit by the HCEA. Interest from this portion of the grant will fund the Historical Construction Equipment Association West Foundation Scholarship, and two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded annually. While the UW-Manitowoc scholarships are limited to its students, the HCEA West Foundation scholarship is for HCEA members and immediate family members to attend accredited college or university engineering programs in their home area. The Michigan Chapter of the HCEA has donated $250 towards making one scholarship available immediately, rather than waiting for interest to accrue, with the balance of the funds coming from the HCEA itself.
Both scholarship programs will be administered by UW-Manitowoc, and all applications for the scholarships will be forwarded to them for processing. UW-Manitowoc also will handle all screening of candidates for the scholarships. Donations to the fund, made either to the University of Wisconsin — Manitowoc Foundation or the HCEA, are being accepted. All donations will be evenly split between the UW-Manitowoc Foundation and the HCEA.
The program is the result of efforts by National Director Harold Radandt, who conceived the idea for the fund, presented it to the boards of the HCEA and the West Foundation, and coordinated arrangements for its administration with Campagna.
John Dunham West was born in 1906 in Chicago, Illinois. His father, Charles C. West, was co-founder of The Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, as it was then called. After earning his degree in mechanical engineering at Cornell University in 1932, he was hired at Manitowoc as service manager for its newly-launched crane business. He was promoted to machine shop superintendent in 1933, and during World War II was responsible for several major innovations in the engineering and construction of submarines, a major Manitowoc product during the war.
He was named president of the newly-organized crane division, which was called the Manitowoc Engineering Corporation, in 1952, then president of the company upon his father’s death in 1957. He served in this capacity until 1981, then as chairman and chief executive officer from 1981 to 1986, and finally as chairman and senior vice president from 1986 until his retirement on Jan. 2, 1988. He was the driving force behind Manitowoc’s emergence as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cranes and ice cube machines. He also led the company to excel in shipbuilding, and because of his anticipation of the era of thousand-foot freighters on the Great Lakes, the company was prepared to build and service these ships.
West met Ruth St. John at Cornell, and they married in Ithaca, N.Y. in 1932. They moved to Manitowoc, and built their home on the shores of Lake Michigan. Ruth was an avid gardener; her personal efforts, beginning in 1934, were largely responsible for developing the West of the Lake Gardens in what had been 6 acres of quack grass and thistles on their property. The Gardens are managed by the West Foundation and are open to the public, weather permitting.
The Wests, who were childless, launched their foundation in 1957 to distribute their personal charity to worthy causes, mostly in the Manitowoc County area, without fanfare or publicity. They also gave generously, apart from the foundation’s assets, to numerous individuals and projects. Ruth also was an avid art collector, and their private giving included millions of dollars for the exhibition wings of the Rahr-West Art Museum and for purchases of works of art for its permanent collection.
After the passing of John and Ruth West in 1989 and 1990 respectively, the major portion of their considerable estate was bequeathed to the West Foundation, which grew from a relatively small personal charity with assets of $18,000,000 in 1991 to assets of $79,000,000 in 2007. It supports humanitarian, educational, charitable cultural and civic or public organizations. This grant is the first made by the foundation outside the Manitowoc area, and the first made without matching funds.