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Tomah Organizations Share $4+ Million Bequest

John Felton                       Velda Felton

Tomah Health, the Tomah Health Hospice Touch & Palliative Care program, the Tomah Public Library and Chasing Daylight Animal Shelter will share just over a $4 million gift commitment from a trust created by John and Velda Felton of Tomah and formerly of Warrens. Details of the bequest were announced during an event held at Tomah Health, Nov. 28.

According to Tomah attorney Jay Carmichael, the distribution of funds included, $1,093,866.62 disbursements each to Tomah Health, Tomah Health Hospice Touch & Palliative Care ‘Pet Therapy’ program, Chasing Daylight Animal Shelter and the Tomah Public Library. “Both John and Velda Felton were active community volunteers,” said Carmichael, who was the Trustee of the Felton’s Trusts. “Velda Felton was a pet lover, an avid reader, active in the Tomah Hospital Auxiliary, and an ardent supporter of Tomah Hospice and the Tomah Library. She was devoted to the continuation of the missions of these four organizations,” he added.

Carmichael said John Felton owned and operated Felton Manufacturing in Warrens, Wisconsin, specializing in equipment design for cranberry growers. “John was a basically a designer and fabricator of machinery equipment primarily focused in the cranberry industry. He was looked upon as a little bit of a genius in that particular industry and growers would go to him with the ideas and he would go to other growers and then he designed what they needed,” said Carmichael. “It’s been a real pleasure for me to have had the opportunity to work with them and be involved in such a wonderful thing for the community,” said Carmichael. “It’s just tremendous. You don’t get an opportunity most times to get the benefit of the enjoyment because the family usually ends up with all the assets. In this case that didn’t happen, and they shared their wealth with the people and hopefully it lasts for decades and decades, if not forever,” Carmichael explained.

Representatives of the four organizations echoed Carmichael’s comments saying they were deeply appreciative of the generous gifts. “We are incredibly grateful to the Feltons and their endorsement of the hospital and our hospice program,” said Tomah Health CEO Derek Daly. “This is really exciting news for us, and it comes at a great time as we just wrapped up our strategic planning process that will further the mission of the hospital to provide superior healthcare services to those who are sick or injured and offer services that support a healthy life,” said Daly. “The timing of this generous gift will certainly play well into the future course of our organization.”

Tomah attorney Jay Carmichael, left, presented ceremonial checks to Tomah Library Board president Paul Skofronick, Chasing Daylight Animal Shelter president Gina Mason, Tomah Health Hospice Touch & Palliative Care director Siera Williams and Tomah Health CEO Derek Daly during a media event at the hospital Nov. 28.

He said it was a testament to the Felton’s that the donation was announced on Giving Tuesday – the day known as a “global generosity movement that unleashes the power of radical generosity around the world,” according to Giving Tuesday, the nonprofit organization that connects countries to its mission.

“We were absolutely humbled by the donation from Velda and John and their estates,” said Chasing Daylight Animal Shelter president Gina Mason. “Velda toured our shelter many, many years ago when it first opened, and she walked in just very innocently adopted a couple cats and was truly one of the most humble individuals,” she added. Mason said the donation will make a significant difference in the future of the shelter. “We are truly forever grateful to them.”

Tomah Library Board president Paul Skofronick said the donation will give the library several options to increase resources to the public. “We were very humbled for them to give us access to their hard labor and increase our programming,” said Skofronick. “For people to devote their life work to something that they will never see is amazing. That is an incredible gift,” he added.

The bequest to the Hospice program will focus on the group’s Pet Therapy program. “Our Pet Therapy program has been instrumental for many Hospice and Palliative Care patients and their families,” said Hospice Touch & Palliative Care Director Siera Williams. “This gift will certainly honor the Felton’s request and take the program to another level.”

Tomah Health