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Frederick B. Wilcox Endowment Fund
By Jean Cohoon / February 21, 2017 /   Loading Disqus...
"Progress always involves risk. You can't steal second base and keep your foot on first."
- Frederick B. Wilcox in Unicorns and Tadpoles, 1958

Frederick Wilcox was not one to keep his foot on first. "He was undoubtedly a risk-taker. The investment business, like stealing a base, is about accepting risk while anticipating reward, and he did have a rewarding way with investments," Ted Mattis explains of his grandfather, who died in 1965 at age 85.

His "way with investments" and careful stewarding through the years by his daughter, Nancy Mattis, resulted in the largest unrestricted gift to the Rhode Island Foundation in its 100-year-history following Nancy's death in 2016. "She was her father's daughter," Ted shares, proudly noting "her wonderful stewardship" of her father's trust. "She greatly enhanced her father's legacy."

Only nine years old when his grandfather died, Ted says, "I knew him largely through family legend. My mother quoted him nearly every day of her life."

A partner with Bodell & Company, private investment bankers in Providence, Mr. Wilcox later served the former Phenix National Bank as president and still later as its chairman. "He left school at a young age, took a job as a bookkeeper at the old Shepard's department store in Providence, and went from there," Ted states, adding that his grandfather served on the boards of many corporations, including as chairman of International Utilities, and was especially proud of having been a trustee at Brown University.

The Brown Alumni Monthly, wrote, "Although he was not an alumnus of Brown, few men have served the University to better purpose than Frederick B. Wilcox (who) died after a life of prominence and usefulness in Rhode Island financial circles."

"He was a remarkable man. He certainly did well financially, but never collected things of monetary value. He collected aphorisms and experiences," Ted recalls. His "collection" is shared in two books, A Little Book of Aphorisms and Unicorns and Tadpoles.

"My grandfather had great foresight and trust in the Rhode Island Foundation. By leaving an unrestricted gift, he showed well-placed confidence in the Foundation's ability to effectively steward the funds and address issues of the day," Ted concludes. Through his insightful planning and his daughter's prudent stewardship, he will be helping to take care of community needs for generations to come.
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