Preston and Mary Kay Bissell Fund



Do you want to support many different Eau Claire area nonprofits without having to set up your own fund? If so, a gift to the Preston and Mary Kay Bissell Fund might be a great option for you.

This Fund provides a strong source of grant funding for a wide variety of organizations. Unlike many other Funds, which focus on specific areas based on donor intent and field of interest, the Preston and Mary Kay Bissell Fund is unrestricted. Its flexibility allows the Foundation's grant reviewers to fund grant applications that address the community's most pressing needs, even if the proposed programs don't specifically correspond to the objectives of other existing Funds.

A gift to the Preston and Mary Kay Bissell Fund is an excellent way to ensure that a diverse array of nonprofit organizations can continue their fantastic work on behalf of the Eau Claire community.


Preston and May Kay Bissell were strong and passionate members of the Eau Claire community. Meeting while Mary Kay was a teacher in her home state of Minnesota, they moved to Eau Claire from Norman, Oklahoma, where Mary Kay had taught at the University of Oklahoma and Preston received his PhD in geography in 1971. They spent the next 30 years teaching in Eau Claire Area schools. Mary Kay focused on literature and writing, her passions, at Regis High School. Preston taught a variety of subjects at McDonell High School after having served as the first Director of the Chippewa Valley Museum. Mary Kay and Preston traveled the world together whenever they could, visiting over 50 countries in their time together. Not ones to sit still after retirement, Preston took up wood carving and growing perennials. Mary Kay worked as the coordinator of campus ministry for Newman Parish in Eau Claire, was active in all phases of The Community Table, and maintained roles as a library volunteer and a hospice volunteer.

Mary Kay had many honors brought to her throughout her life, including Girls State Officer, Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow, an NSF grant which paid for her master’s degree at the U of M, a Herb Kohl Outstanding Teacher Award, sixteen annual Eau Claire Chamber Outstanding Teacher awards, the Father John Rossiter Award, the Regis Non Sibi Award, and the Terese Lasser American Cancer Society Award for her 25 years of training volunteers in Wisconsin. She was also a member of Delta Kappa Gamma and PEO, Chapter AF.

Preston departed this life on October 22nd, 2007, and his life’s companion, Mary Kay, passed away on June 17th of 2011. They both left behind legacies of community involvement and activism, as well as memorials to the community. Mary Kay’s were given to Regis High School and The Community Table. Preston’s went to the McDonell High School Scholarship Fund. Though they are no longer with us, their financial legacy will live on forever. In December of 2010, the Bissells became members of the Legacy Society at the Eau Claire Community Foundation.

The gift from the Bissells to the Eau Claire Community Foundation went into the Community Fund, where it helps to provide grants to local non-profit organizations. The Bissells realized the importance of giving back to the community and supporting the needs of many nonprofits through grants at the Foundation.