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Making a Mark on Wausau

September 21, 2018

Making a Mark – Remember Caroline Mark on her birthday week (her 100th)!

Caroline Schumann Mark

Caroline has been described by some who knew her as “unassuming, but she was compassionate, powerful, a force of nature, a force for good.”  (In My Life: Caroline Mark, Kathy Riordan, March 15, 2009)

The young Caroline Schumann from Montclair, N.J and Alice Woodson of Wausau met at school near Washington, DC and formed an enduring friendship. In succeeding years Caroline came west to visit Alice. She liked the community, and in 1956, Caroline and her husband William decided to resettle their family in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Although she was an heiress to family fortune (her father was the president of the General Motors Acceptance Corporation and her grandfather a founder of IBM), Caroline chose to become engaged in purposeful philanthropy, and used her wealth to inspire and spur action in the community she called home.

Making a Mark on Wausau

Caroline and Bill Marks with their children. Photo courtesy of Marathon Co. Historical Society Bob Geisel Collection.

Caroline and her husband, Bill, came to Wausau because they recognized that they could make a difference. She soon found ways to get involved in the community. Deep belief in service and giving, combined with her drive and vision, quickly made her a community leader. She served on the boards of numerous organizations around the Wausau area, as well as the foundations she and her family established. Their family foundations were great patrons of music education, medical research and environmental projects. Additionally, many organization in Wausau have received substantial gifts from them: Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin, Boys and Girls Club of Wausau, Wausau Symphony and Band, United Way, Red Cross, North Central Technical College, Marathon Co. Historical Society, Wausau Hospital, Women’s Community and North Central Health Foundation.

Investing for Future Generations

Caroline Mark joined the board of the Wausau Conservatory of Music shortly after it was founded in 1981. As the school enrollment grew, the Conservatory needed a dedicated building to be the first school. Mrs. Marks and other community leaders raised money to acquire the Seymour Street property in 1988. In 1992, she pledged $500,000 to start an endowment fund for the Conservatory, and challenged the community to match her pledge to create the Wausau Conservatory of Music Endowment Fund.   This endowment has made it possible for countless students to receive a quality music education, and continues to support music today.   In 1998, she provided a leadership gift to encourage others to join her in building the 11,900 square-foot addition which led to more teaching studios and the concert hall that proudly bears her name.

The Conservatory’s First School 1988

Students and faculty gathered in front of the first Conservatory School at 404 Seymour Street in 1988. In 1986 the enrollment had grown to over 280 students, prompting the purchase of the school in 1987 and a yearlong renovation.


New Addition Opens 1997

Pianist Edwardus Halim and the late Caroline Mark at the dedication of the new building in 1997. Mrs. Mark invested in the future of the Conservatory by supporting the purchase of the first building and substantial donations for the addition.

Caroline S. Mark Concert Hall

Caroline’s frequently shared this:

” The Greatest Obligation of Freedom is the Voluntary Assumption of Responsibility.”  Montclair Junior League