Mary Jane and Basil Wissner legacy: supporting scholarship

Last October, the Eden Prairie Local News published a story about the passing of Mary Jane and Basil Wissner, just months apart, and their decades of involvement and service to Eden Prairie.

Married for 58 years, the Wissners were known for their community involvement and philanthropy in Eden Prairie, where they lived since the late-1960s.

Basil and Mary Jane quietly donated to many local organizations and causes, among them the Eden Prairie Crime Prevention Fund and the Eden Prairie Community Foundation. They supported all things related to the late Dr. Jean Harris, the city’s first woman mayor and only black mayor, and especially construction of the Jean Harris Gathering Bridge at Purgatory Creek Park and ongoing funding for the Foundation’s Dr. Jean Harris Scholarship.

And so, it may not be a surprise – and yet the Foundation is forever grateful – that the Wissners in their estate donated $250,000 to the Dr. Jean L. Harris Scholarship Fund that the Foundation has held for many years.

This generous bequest will allow the annual scholarship to continue many, many years into the future, recognizing local high school graduates who have been excellent students and citizens and have dedicated volunteer time to advancing diversity, human rights, equity, and a welcoming Eden Prairie.

The Wissners were a shining example of how to give back to one’s community, and that legacy will now continue. Basil and Mary Jane were ages 82 and 79, respectively, when they passed away. They are buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, just a short walk from Pax Christi Catholic Community.

Thank you, Mary Jane and Basil.

About the Author Mark Weber has been the executive director of the Eden Prairie Community Foundation since October 2013. In this role, he enjoys meeting with Eden Prairie residents, and being an active member of the community. If you’d like to connect with Mark, call him at (952) 949-8499 or email him. You can also read Mark’s full biography.

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