SYRACUSE — A group of Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation board members and past inductees to the Eli Lilly Lifetime Founders Society gathered at the Levinson-LaBrosse Lakes and Wetlands Education Center Friday evening, Aug. 26. The occasion was to celebrate those who have been inducted and the newest inductees – Mark and Cindy Deister, Fort Wayne.
“When we were thinking about how to honor the people, families you see on the wall, we came up to the notion, there couldn’t be anyone better to name the society for than Eli Lilly,” said Terry Clapacs, board vice chairman. Claps noted Lilly was an anthropologist, business executive, philanthropist, sailor, conservationist and activist. “In many ways he made this lake and this lake area what it is today. Our organization, WACF, feels a close affinity to the values and the way of life that he lived here at Lake Wawasee.”
The guests present, including members of the Lilly family – Peter, Ginny and Peter Nicholas, Jr., heard how Lilly came to the lake from the time he was 3 until a year before he passed away at the age of 92. “Clearly Lake Wawasee owes a great debt to Mr. Lilly and our organization owes a great debt to the people on the wall.”
While the threshold of giving is $100,000 to be included on the wall, Tom Yoder, former board member, noted “it’s about more than money.” He noted it’s about total contribution by those individuals: contracts brought to the WACF attention to help solve problems on the lake, projects that have long term programs, time and efforts, steadfastness and support.
Yoder stated the future of WACF looks bright with outstanding leadership, people wanting to come onto the board and serve and progress the WACF is making. He noted his love, emphasis and passion has been acquisition of wetlands to protect those wetlands that serve as filters of unwanted sediment and nutrients. “What progress we’ve made. It hasn’t been just me, it’s all of you, this and others paying attention still have more to do. We’ve gone a long way. But we can see the end in sight. We need everyone to keep it up.”
Yoder concluded stating when he looks at the wall he says it is like an Olympic podium, with Lilly in the back and the special lifetime donors on the podium with their gold medals.