A Father’s Legacy: “When You Give, You Get Even More”

For 97 years, Donald Lewan lived by two rules: Always remember a person’s name, and always give back.

These rules applied to nearly everything he did – including his estate planning.

During the Great Depression, Donald was treated at Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s) for tuberculosis as a young child. His care was provided at no cost to his family – an act of generosity he remembered for the rest of his life. 

Donald enjoyed good health in his adult years, a credit to quality pediatric healthcare. In suburban Chicago, he built a life with his wife Shirley and four children and enjoyed a prosperous career in human resources. The oldest of four children, Donald lived to be 97 years old, passing away in the spring of 2021. 

In his will, Donald made a point to remember a selection of non-profits he cared for – and who cared for him. He designated Lurie Children’s as a beneficiary in his will.

“He loved to tell the story of his time at Children’s Memorial to his kids and grandkids, and he’d often get tears in his eyes remembering the charity care he received,” Donald’s daughter, Patty, remembered. 

It was that experience that sparked Donald’s passion for giving back, Patty believed. “He loved to say that when you give, you get even more back,” she said. 

Throughout their lives, Patty and her two siblings, Donald Jr. and Thomas, enjoyed close relationships with their father. Influenced by her father’s experiences, Patty even pursued a career in nursing. For more than 40 years, she has enjoyed advocating and caring for patients in a variety of settings, from the operating room to the classroom. 

Since her father’s passing, Patty has found that maintaining relationships with his chosen charities has deepened their bond in a profoundly unique way. 

“His gift strengthens our connection to him,” Patty said. “It makes you feel great, and it makes you think about your own legacy, too. Who do you want to leave things to? Handling my dad’s estate has made me proud of who he was and all he did.” 

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