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Oscar C. Boldt’s legacy in the Fox Valley impacted all of us

We’re all feeling the great loss of Oscar C. Boldt today, remembering not only his huge impact in the Fox Valley but the many personal memories of a man who meant so much to his family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and community. He was known to many of us as “O.C.” He died yesterday morning at the age of 96, with his son Tom and wife Pat at his side.

O.C. and Pat have been synonymous with charitable giving in the Fox Valley. He was a founding board member of the Community Foundation and one of our early presidents. He also served on many committees here over the years. “The Foundation will continue to succeed,” O.C. once said, “if it keeps selecting as members of its board people who want to do good without expecting recognition or personal gain from their service. With that kind of leadership, then you can attract a lot of other people to do what’s right.”

A life well lived

With dedication, entrepreneurship and consummate business ethics, O.C. spent more than half a century transforming Boldt Co., the family business his grandfather founded in 1889, into one of the nation’s largest and most highly respected construction firms.

In addition to working his full time job of building a company, he and his wife Pat took on another full time job of helping to build the communities in which he worked. They are benefactors of countless charitable organizations touching the arts, children, healthcare, education, and the environment. He volunteered in leadership roles on the boards of Appleton Medical Center, the Community Foundation, and Lawrence University, and was an active member of Appleton Rotary. He was honored during his lifetime with numerous awards from the University of Wisconsin and other institutions, and was inducted into the Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame in 2003.

Tom Boldt with his father, O.C., at the Community Foundation’s 2016 Celebrating Volunteers event.

In a note to the company’s 2,000 team members nationwide, CEO Tom Boldt said of his father:
“My Dad was extremely proud of all our field and office employees. He loved the company and the positive impact it has had on so many customers and communities. He was excited about what we will be capable of in the future.  And, he wanted us to have fun doing it!”

He impacted all of us.

Even at 96, O.C. continued to actively serve on committees within the Community Foundation. The couple established the O.C. and Pat Boldt Fund in 1988 to do some of their personal giving.

Other charitable funds within the Community Foundation established by the Boldts include the O.C. and Pat Boldt Limited Emergency Relief Fund to provide ongoing support for LEAVEN, Dorothy A. Boldt Fund ftbo Mount Olive Ev. Lutheran Church, Pat Boldt Fox Valley Symphony Fund and Patricia Boldt Fund for Women Administrative Endowment from within the Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region.

The Boldts are part of our Himebaugh Legacy Circle, assuring the causes they care about will continue to have support forever.

Many of our staff members worked with O.C. over the years. Here are some memories and thoughts shared by our Community Foundation team today:

“O.C. had such passion and determination for making this community better! He always had a knack for inspiring the best efforts in people, and making people want to be on his team. That was true in business, philanthropy and community life. He was thoughtful and cared about people. It was always a special day when O.C. would walk into the Foundation office carrying Dilly bars for the staff to say thanks for the work we do. He was bigger than life yet a gentle soul for those who knew him well.” Curt Detjen, President and CEO

“I had the honor to get to know O.C. while working at the Fox Cities P.A.C., and developed a friendship born out of a deep respect for him and Pat. He always had a witty quip and hug to share. I have many fond memories, and learned so much by observing his humble acts of generosity and kindness.” Carissa Kranz, Donor Services Manager

“I’ve always thought what was special about O.C. was that not only did he build a nationally known and respected design-build company, but when I interacted with him one-on-one as the son of a crane operator, I could see the construction worker still in him. He respected the talents of the tradespeople that worked for him and truly enjoyed and took pride in building things that served the community.” David Horst, Donor Services and Environmental Grant Manager

“During our lives, we meet people who change the course of how we think and what we believe. O.C. was one of those people for me. I first met O.C. while working at the Fox Cities P.A.C. His love of this community and strong belief in philanthropy could move a mountain and a mountain isn’t even close to describing the void that now exists. I’ll forever miss his stories and his smile. When I count my blessings, O.C. and Pat are at the top.” Diane Zempel, Director of Database Operations 

“I remember him saying that ‘Pat is the one in charge!’ They came to a LEAVEN annual meeting a few years ago and he said they were there because Pat insisted on coming. She was one of the first volunteers at LEAVEN when is started over 30 years ago. O.C. and Pat were amazing supporters of the nonprofits in the community and his legacy will live on through their work to make the Fox Cities a healthy and resilient region where nonprofit leaders and organizations have access to the resources they need and are equipped with the skills to make our community a great place to live for all.”  Kim O’Brien, Executive Director, Nonprofit Leadership Initiative

“I will continually recall his broad shoulders and firm resolve. He built and fostered a great company; he challenged and nurtured a wide community. His forward thinking mentored generations of leaders. His life partner, Pat, was his obvious pride and joy.As a WWII recent high school grad navigating a bomber across the Balkans, to the rescue of a fledgling carpenter shop building ammo boxes, to a construction organization ingrained with values and determination , O C was a force in the communities he served.Generations of business and community leaders will share their many moments with O C. His vision was wide and his determination forward-thinking. He guided. He saw solutions –all with the ultimate beneficiary in mind. His hand prints mark many of his gifts to us and for these I am most thankful.” Walter Rugland, former Board member

Highlights from Oscar C. Boldt’s life and career:

Oscar C. Boldt learned construction under his father, Oscar J. Boldt’s guidance. After serving as a B-24 navigator in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II, he graduated with a degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin. In 1948, he became the third generation of his family to assume leadership of the company.

Oscar was active in the company up until his passing. The family is planning a private funeral and a memorial service will be planned at a later date.

Entrepreneur of the Year Award | Ernst & Young Master
Community Service Award | Walter L. Rugland
Regent’s Award | St. Olaf College
Executive of the Year Award | Sales and Marketing Executives of Northeast Wisconsin Renaissance Award | Arts Alliance
Inductee | Paper Industry International Hall of Fame
Distinguished Constructor Award | American Society of Civil Engineers
Honorary Degree | Ripon College
Honorary Degree | Lawrence University
Wisconsin Horizon Award

Bachelor Degree, civil engineering | University of Wisconsin – Madison
Distinguished Service Citation
Chi Epsilon National Civil Engineering Honor Society
Lifetime Achievement Award, Distinguished Alumni Award | University of Wisconsin Construction Club
One of Three Founding Fathers of Construction Engineering and Management Program, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Board member | Appleton Medical Center
Member | Appleton Rotary Club
Executive committee member | Community Foundation for Fox Valley Region, Inc.
Board of Trustees, Executive Committee | Lawrence University
Elder | Memorial Presbyterian

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