Community needs people such as William Quarton

The Gazette, Oct. 18, 1995

William Quarton hasn’t avoided his unique opportunity to make this community a little bit different place — mostly by working behind the scenes. Today, Quarton, retired broadcast executive, will receive the “Outstanding Individual Philanthropist Award” from the Eastern Iowa chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives at its annual Philanthropy Day Awards Banquet, this year in Dubuque.

This award is like many others: Much lies behind the honor. People tell of his vision, his courage, his willingness to listen to an idea, his tendency to issue challenge grants to particular organizations so his money could generate other gifts. For instance, this community might not be able to avail itself of a public, non-profit group such as Greater Cedar Rapids Foundation had Quarton not issued a challenge grant to a private fund not quite a decade ago, urging it to change its legal status to public foundation and to seek more grants. Nor might the Metro Area Housing Program (MAHP) be doing its good work of encouraging development of housing for low- and moderate-income families, had Quarton not taken a chance on a couple of former Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP) employees with a dream. Other organizations also have been helped by Quarton, often through his service on boards of directors. He helped develop the state’s public broadcasting system, he has endowed a chair in business and economics at Coe College and endowed the John B. Turner “Grant Wood Gallery” at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art.

Quarton, 92, long associated with the WMT radio and TV stations and their former corporate parents, also had investments in a Fort Dodge radio station and a number of cable TV systems. He remains active, maintaining an office in the IE Tower.

Communities need people like Bill Quarton — people who recognize that the fruits of their success provide the opportunity to accomplish what others cannot. He didn’t shirk the opportunities and duties that come with his stature, and it is fitting that his good efforts are not going unnoticed today.