De Pere, Wis.: ’Tis the season for giving, and the family of the late Wm. “Red” Lewis of Green Bay wants to make sure their gifts help students attending St. Norbert College continue their educational journey, despite any financial bumps in the road that they might experience. The family has donated seed money of $20,000 to help get the St. Norbert College Student Emergency Fund started.
“We are very grateful to the Lewis family for this incredible gift,” said Jon Enslin, vice president for advancement at St. Norbert College. “Wm. ‘Red’ Lewis was a close friend of the college, and his legacy will live on by helping students whose short-term financial challenges impede their ability to remain enrolled or make progress toward a timely graduation.”
Research shows when a student has a break in his or her college education, the odds of completing go down dramatically. The funds will be used to support students struggling to continue in college because of one-time financial needs of about $500 or less, for things like computer repairs, unexpected moving expenses or vehicle repairs. Ninety-seven percent of St. Norbert College students receive financial aid, including merit-based academic scholarships.
“To get on the ground floor of something at the college and to use this seed money to tell other people who may want to help really resonated with my sister and I because we both saw students struggle at times financially while attending St. Norbert,” said Rebecca Lewis-Verheyden, Lewis’ daughter and a 1993 graduate of St. Norbert College. Lewis-Verheyden’s sister Kelly and daughter Katy also are St. Norbert alumnae, graduating in 1990 and 2021, respectively.
Wm. “Red” Lewis was a longtime friend of the college, founder of the Automobile Gallery, a strong supporter of Green Bay area nonprofits and was at the forefront of the touchless car wash industry. He died in January 2021.
Lewis became good friends through the years with former St. Norbert College president Thomas Kunkel and later developed a relationship with current SNC president Brian Bruess. Cars from the Automobile Gallery often were featured on the St. Norbert College campus during SNC Day, the college’s annual community open house.
“A couple of weeks before my father passed, he said he wanted to find a tangible way to support St. Norbert College,” said Lewis-Verheyden. “Unfortunately, he didn’t have the opportunity to make the contribution himself. But in talking with Jon Enslin and President Bruess about ways to directly impact students, my sister and I agreed funding the Student Emergency Fund was a perfect way for Dad to support the college. As he always said, ‘Sometimes people just need a little hand up,’” said Lewis-Verheyden.