Building a strong foundation in Jackson County


When Bob and Ann Osterhaus’ son got married out of state, Bob learned of a resource that would change his Iowa community forever. At the wedding, he found out about a local community foundation, and he returned home to share the information. Soon, the Maquoketa Area Foundation was born. 

From this chance encounter, a valuable community organization was created and continues to strengthen local communities today as the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The story of how it began still inspires today’s volunteer board members and the many generous community members who support it. 

In 1982 Bob and fellow founding board members George Spalding, Corliss Baty, Jerry Rasmussen, Sylvester Klein, Elaine Luett and Margaret Albert met bi-monthly for brown-bag lunches at the Chamber of Commerce office to plan their endeavor. From a humble beginning– a Christmas luncheon at the Maquoketa Country Club that yielded $3,000 in donations – the board created a nonprofit to accept gifts and make grants to the community.

Three major benefactors supported the foundation in those early years, and they still represent some of its largest funds. “Alta Bailey left about $100,000 to the Foundation, which was a big deal,” Bob recalls. “Elizabeth Derganz sold her farm on contract and gave us the balance of that contract. And the wise man Harris Penrose contributed $50,000 in scholarships for people who had started college and needed money to finish. It was the vision of these initial donors that got us off to a good start.”

More than 40 years later, it holds $12 million in assets and made $1.2 million in grants last year. “It’s grown a little bit,” Bob says with a laugh. “It has been wonderful to watch that growth.”