On October 21st, 2015, The Cedar Valley lost one of its most prominent and generous philanthropists: Helen Guernsey. Helen was born and raised in Waterloo. During her 96 years of life, she accomplished many great things right here in the Cedar Valley and its surrounding communities. Among other worthy nonprofits, Helen loved the Arboretum and was an enthusiastic supporter for over fifteen years.
Our executive director, Robert Pruitt, who had the pleasure of meeting Helen on multiple occasions, described her as “A super sweet, tell-it-like-it-is lady who loved supporting local organizations.” He continued his thoughts on Helen by saying, “She especially loved how the Arboretum brought people together through volunteering. People came here to garden and left with new friends, and she really enjoyed that.”
Thanks to donations made by Helen, Max, and their foundation, updates and improvements to the Arboretum have been made that would have never been possible without their help. In 2001, thanks to the generosity of the Helen and Max Guernsey Charitable Foundation, we were able to fund and complete our Children’s Garden project, which is now one of the Cedar Valley Arboretum’s main attractions. Each year, thousands of families enjoy the beauty and fun that was made possible by the Guernseys.
While the Arboretum and the Cedar Valley will most certainly feel the loss of this wonderful woman and humanitarian, her memory will live on through the Helen and Max Guernsey Charitable Foundation. Their foundation donates thousands of dollars to over 40 deserving, local nonprofit organizations each year.