Among his many abilities as scientist, speaker, writer, and organizer, Aldo Leopold was also a revered educator, but even he couldn’t play the accordion. Liz could, though.
Earlier this month, staff and fellows of the Leopold Foundation had the great good fortune to “meet,” posthumously, the newest member of our legacy giving Good Oak Society, Dr. Elizabeth F. “Liz” Wywialowski.
Several of Liz’s close family members travelled to the Legacy Center in Baraboo—homemade lemonade and Liz’s famous oatmeal cookies in tow—to introduce her to us and honor her love of the natural world. We learned, in ample awe, why they chose to provide a legacy gift in her name to the foundation. Wywialowski’s (pronounced Vivia lov ski) wide range of abilities included nursing, teaching, writing, information technology (IT), and, of course, music. She was guided in life by a philosophy of learning; nary a day passed when she didn’t learn something.
Born into a large, Northern Wisconsin farm family, where she shared a farmhouse and long days building a successful—and rare for that stumpy, rocky region and Depression timeframe—dairy operation with her parents and sixteen siblings, Liz went on to build a celebrated career in nursing (in New York and at UW-Madison Hospital), teaching, writing books on clinical nursing, retirement, and then, when retirement didn’t suit her life-long passion to learn, a second career in IT.
Through all the years and career responsibilities, she never lost her attachment to the Forest County land she was raised on, and, under the tutelage of her beloved wildlife biologist sister, Alice, came to the philosophy of Aldo Leopold and the land ethic. Eventually Liz became sole owner of the original 180-acre family farm, which she re-named, “Northern Grace” and placed it into a conservation easement with Northwoods Land Trust so it can never be developed for housing or other commercial use.
Joining us in Baraboo were Liz’s long-time partner, BJ McCafferty, her daughter Jo and son-in-law Andy Tuck, grandchildren Ali, Danny and Sophie Tuck, and Liz’s niece and nephew Gloria and Brian Easton. They enchanted us with stories of Liz from her early days on the farm to her final days when her ever-present sense of humor was expressed to the end, passing just after New Year’s in tongue-in-cheek kitty-cat pajamas.
Alongside Liz’s numerous achievements, her family celebrated her musical side—she loved to sing and play the accordion, making harmonies to match the land harmony she ensured. They spoke of her joyfulness and dedication to learning and therefore directed her Good Oak gift to support the foundation’s Future Leaders Program.
BJ explained, “We all agree that the Future Leaders Program is where Liz would prefer to have her donation used. She spent her whole life teaching and sharing knowledge in every way she could. She was a consummate learner and encouraged all others to seek to learn something new every day. Liz learned and applied a lot from Alice as they worked to preserve the gifts that their family embraced while working the land. I think that the value of the Future Learners Program will have a long-lasting impact on whomever is sponsored, and on their efforts for the continued expression of ethical land use.”
Cheers, Liz, and thank you for all you have done for an ethic of care for people and the land, today and tomorrow! We will see your smile each time a polka breaks out in this neck of the woods, which happens here more often than one would think.
Learn more about Liz here.
Learn more about our legacy giving options and Good Oak Society: