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Make Your Mark: Don Fundingsland grows beauty for neighbors in Memory Care

Don watering flowers on The Arbor deckIn our continuing series, “Make Your Mark,” we have been introducing PHS employees who live out the PHS Mission and Values. From time to time we also choose to tell the stories of residents whose actions have touched hearts, leaving unique impressions, like fingerprints on the people and places that share their lives.

Don Fundingsland makes his mark as a resident at Avalon Square in Waukesha, WI, by doing what he’s done his whole life: caring for others and the beauty of God’s creation. Don is living with Alzheimer’s Disease, but that doesn’t stop him from sharing gratitude and building community with his neighbors at The Arbor.

Don’s daughter Alane Benson says her dad is well known in Waukesha, adding, “That’s why Avalon Square is such a good fit.” In the 1970, Don became the president of Waukesha Memorial Hospital – and later developed ProHealth Care, which covers the full spectrum of care. Currently the hospital, clinics and senior living communities provide care for more than 400,000 people across several counties.

Don also led the city in revitalizing Fox River Park in the 1990s — 250-plus acres of “mature woodlands and wetlands, and many varieties of wild flowers.” Alane describes walking with her dad along the beautiful pathways before COVID. She says, “We would walk along the river, and he would tell me where he ordered the bricks from, who donated money to this bridge and who complained that the clock tower wasn’t straight,” adding, “He can remember every detail.”

When he retired in 2002, Don took up oil painting full-time at a studio near Avalon Square. He says, “I had a huge floral garden that was the subject of a lot of [my] paintings.” He describes becoming absorbed by “the beauty, the shapes and then the colors” of flowers, especially roses.
                                                  Don and flowers at The Arbor
Today Don is making his mark as the gardening assistant at Avalon Square, caring for the beautiful planters dotting the inviting Arbor deck patio. He says, “I’m thrilled to have that opportunity. There’s something about growing flowers that is really appealing.”

Christina Miller, who is the Life Enrichment Director, says, “When Don goes out and tends to the garden his eyes light up and you can just sense that he is at peace being outside surrounded by God’s beauty. He truly takes pride in being our gardening assistant.” She counts Don among the resident volunteers who, she says, “are the heart and soul of Avalon Square. Whether by caring for our beautiful flower gardens, tending to our library, or engaging in other volunteer activities, we have so many residents who contribute and help make Avalon Square a vibrant community.”

Alane describes the patio as a spot where she looks first for her dad when she comes to visit. She explains, “A lot of guys go out there and sit and talk. It’s very safe and only accessible to residents of The Arbor,” adding, “Even in the pandemic, the staff work around it safely. I have full faith in them. Honestly, he couldn’t be anywhere better.”

Christina says, too, “Being able to take residents out on to the deck to soak up some sunshine and admire the beautiful colors and varieties of flowers is such a blessing.”

With his seasoned experience in healthcare, Don says of Avalon Square and PHS, “I would give this organization high marks. People care. You can tell the difference. And so, it’s an honor for me to have that opportunity to care for them.”

We at PHS are humbled by the care that Don and residents show in their PHS communities. They make their mark by creating community and beauty that help their neighbors thrive with purpose and joy.

Find out how you or an older adult in your life can pursue purpose and make a mark at a PHS community in MN, IA or WI. Visit

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