William D. Petersen Fund for Needy Children


What he wanted for himself, he wanted for his fellow citizens. 
So, our roots actually go back to the 1920s.

Because of a gift from a man that moved away from the area around 1912, and who passed away in California in 1928, found its way to the Community Foundation when it was founded 40 years ago.

William D. Petersen, who founded with his father and brothers what eventually became Von Maur Department Store. His will to bestowed a generous gift to the needy in the community that helped him to become successful.

During his life in the Quad-Cities, Petersen gave several years of his life to reclaiming the Davenport riverfront. His fellow citizens looked upon him as part of the town, and he reciprocated the feeling. He thought of his home city as part of himself.

The riverfront, in the early part of the 20th century, had become "an unsightly garbage dump of rubbish heaps, a crisscross of switch tracks, and an unsightly shantytown." Petersen had the vision to restore it to something that more resembled the Rhine River Valley in Germany than the industrial service route it had become.

Petersen’s efforts are still enjoyed today - LeClaire Park, the music pavilion dedicated to his daughter, Wilma …

There was much more to Petersen than his merchandising ability. The legacy of a German immigrant who started out life with old-fashioned ideas of honesty, industry, and thrift, still live strong today through grants from the Petersen funds at the Community Foundation.

"The Endow Iowa Tax Credit was the perfect way to create a fund while taking advantage of the state tax credit.

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Did You Know?

The Teens for Tomorrow youth philanthropy program has given local students the opportunity to grant more than $70,000 to the community since the program's inception in 2002.
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