A Lifetime of Gratitude and Generosity

William and Marlene ListwanSeated at a table in his spacious and sunny kitchen, William Listwan, MD, ’68, welcomes guests with the grace and good humor that marked 50 years of service as a physician, devotion to his beloved, late wife Marlene, and father to a family with three children.

The walls are adorned with photos of family vacations, Marlene’s brightly painted watercolors and ceramics, and a lifetime of memories. Just returned from a tennis match, Bill reflects on the experiences that shaped his life and the importance of extending generosity through his philanthropy and service even into retirement.

“People need to be generous with their time, talent, and financial resources,” he says. In describing his motivation to make philanthropic investments to the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) as a member of the Class of 1968 and at Marquette University, where he received his undergraduate degree, he has a simple message: gratitude.

“I’m very grateful to the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University,” he says, “and the opportunities I had as an undergraduate and at medical school.”

Bill’s contributions have focused primarily on ensuring that others have those same opportunities, particularly since going into the medical profession can be a daunting financial challenge. It’s an experience he understands.

“I borrowed money for Marquette, and Marlene and I worked to pay for medical school, and we even had a small amount of savings when I graduated.,” he says. Even so, those first few weeks in residency with young children were a challenge. He recalls, with some humor, eating most of his meals at the hospital and bringing home bananas and pears from the cafeteria for dinners that usually featured macaroni and cheese until his first payday.

“I wish I’d made a copy of that check,” he says. “Marlene and I ran to the bank.”

Now, after a successful career and with the confidence that comes with thoughtful financial planning, Bill is supporting scholarship funds at MCW as well as research into breast cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, which effected Marlene before she passed away.

Over the years, he has taken advantage of using his required IRA distributions to make charitable gifts that have reduced his tax liability. He plans to use his estate to make a major investment supporting medical student scholarships while also providing for his children and grandchildren. Not only does this kind of financial planning ensure stability throughout retirement, but it also builds assets that can have an impact on generations.

“Marlene and I always felt that whatever extra we had should be shared so that others could have the same opportunities we did,” he says. “It’s an obligation that’s still important to me.”