The Ruth St. John and John Dunham West Foundation, Inc. was incorporated as a Wisconsin non-stock, non-profit corporation on December 23, 1957.
John attended Cornell University. He met Ruth St. John and they were married in Ithaca, New York in 1932. They moved to Manitowoc, Wisconsin and purchased property along the shores of Lake Michigan to build their home.
It was largely Ruth's personal efforts that converted six acres of quack grass and thistle into the beautiful flower gardens known as the "West of the Lake Gardens".
John West graduated from Cornell University with a degree in engineering in 1932 and shortly thereafter, joined the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company. He succeeded his father as President of the Company in 1957 and served in that capacity until 1981 when he became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
John West passed away on December 1, 1989 and Ruth West passed on October 30, 1990. From the time the corporation was founded until the death of Ruth West, the Foundation was used as a vehicle to support their personal charities and worthy causes, primarily in the Manitowoc area. Their philanthropy was done quietly and without publicity.
One more significant contribution by John and Ruth West to the Manitowoc-Two Rivers community was their ongoing support of the Rahr-West Art Museum. Literally millions of dollars were contributed personally for the construction of the exhibition wing and purchase of works of art for the permanent collection of the museum.
Following the deaths of John and Ruth West, the major portion of their estate was used to continue the Foundation.
The Foundation's philosophy is a commitment to organizations through the financial promotion of humanitarian, educational, cultural and civic or public purposes.