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The Dorothy M. and Edward J. Wehmer ’72 Family to Receive Loyola Academy's 2021 Lord Award

Lord, teach me to be generous,
to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to look for any reward,
save that of knowing that I do your holy will. 

In a simple and elegant way, St. Ignatius’s Prayer for Generosity delivers profound wisdom: to find yourself you have to give yourself away. As a student at Loyola Academy in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Wintrust CEO and Founder Ed Wehmer ’72 knew these words well. In so many ways, this great wisdom has been the steady drumbeat behind the life and works of The Dorothy M. and Edward J. Wehmer ’72 Family, who will receive the 2021 Daniel A. Lord, SJ, Award for Distinguished Service in the Cause of Youth at Loyola Academy's 64th annual President’s Dinner at Wintrust’s Grand Banking Hall in downtown Chicago on Friday, November 5.

“Ed has been a role model for many, and I have witnessed his generosity, true community spirit, and enthusiasm for helping others,” says William E. “Bill” Sullivan ’72, who is one of the co-chairs of the 2021 President’s Dinner with wife, Suzanne. Ed and Bill’s friendship reaches back more than fifty years to their time as classmates at both Loyola Academy and Georgetown University and then as roommates for several years after college in Chicago. “His devotion and hard work on behalf of the Academy has been incredible. I am fortunate to be able to call him my friend.”

Today, in the nearly fifty years since his days as a Rambler, Ed has taken Wintrust Financial Corporation from its lean founding days in 1991—when he started the company in a 1,200-square-foot space with 11 employees; a card table borrowed from his wife, Dorothy; a briefcase; and a mobile phone “the size of an old boot”—to its current status as the Chicago area’s second-largest locally headquartered banking company, with more than $48 billion in assets and over 174 bank locations and niche businesses (i.e., mortgage, leasing, franchise, premium finance, and wealth) in all fifty states and Canada. 

But a glance at the Wehmers’ charitable pursuits and passion projects—from tuition assistance at Loyola Academy and the schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago to supporting Lurie Children’s Hospital and Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, just to name a few—there quickly emerges an important investment in another kind of capital: hardworking young people with limitless potential. 

Through their ongoing support of Loyola Academy alone, Dorothy and Ed are champions for deserving students from every part of the city and its suburbs. The Wehmers have long supported Loyola’s mission through leadership gifts to fund major projects such as the development of Theodore G. Munz, SJ, Campus in Glenview in 2003 and new altar furnishings during the renovation of the Loyola Chapel in 2006. The couple’s gifts and ongoing participation in key fundraising events have funded scholarships for dozens of Ramblers, setting in motion a positive impact that will be felt for generations. In addition, Ed provided invaluable stewardship for Loyola Academy as a Board member from 2002 to 2008 and Board chair from 2004 to 2007.

“The mission of Jesuit education is to help young people develop as savvy discerners of the presence of God in their lives," says Loyola Academy President Rev. Patrick E. McGrath, SJ. "Learning to experience God in all things, as St. Ignatius would say, leads us to want to respond in generosity and service by using our unique gifts and talents. Ed Wehmer gets this! The life of joyful generosity that he and Dorothy have shared with so many would make St. Ignatius proud. We are so grateful for their friendship and leadership in the Loyola community.”  

"The Wehmers’ generosity and support for Loyola Academy cannot be overstated. Dorothy and Ed have been longtime partners of Loyola and our mission, caring deeply for our students and their success both at Loyola and beyond,” adds Loyola Academy Vice President for Advancement Bob Miller. “It's truly an honor to formally recognize and celebrate their impact.” 

The couple’s commitment to young people extends far beyond Loyola Academy into many of Chicago’s communities. "The Wehmers have been steadfast supporters of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Catholic education in particular, over many years,” shares Archbishop of Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich. “They have been generous with their time, talent, and treasure in helping to bolster communities of faith, strengthen schools, and create myriad opportunities for young people. Ed and Dorothy’s leadership is a fine example of a loving and compassionate response to the needs and challenges of the present moment. Their vision is ever hopeful and forward-looking, and I am personally grateful for their partnership, which continues to sustain many facets of Catholic life in Chicago.”

The couple’s dedication to Misericordia Home has extended for over thirty years and continues to the present day.    

“The Wehmers have been true friends to the mission of Misericordia. They have supported us in all of our endeavors and have been devoted to the children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities whom we are privileged to serve,” says Misericordia Home’s Assistant Executive Director Lois Gates. “We personally thank Dorothy for her leadership as past president and member of the Misericordia Women’s Auxiliary, as well as the Wehmer children for their support of the Misericordia Young Professionals Group.” 

Dorothy and Ed are also longtime supporters of Catholic Charities, which helps people struggling with poverty and other complex issues through ministry, advocacy, and social policy; disaster relief; affordable housing; immigration and refugee services; social enterprise initiatives; and more. The Wehmers have shared their time and talents with the organization as board members, contributing generously to the annual Christmas Toy Drive and serving as chair couple for the 2010 Spirit of Saint Nicholas Ball, the organization’s signature fundraising event.  In 2017, they were recipients of the Catholic Charities Compassion in Action Award.

“Dorothy and Ed Wehmer are among Catholic Charities’ most dedicated and generous supporters,” says President and Chief Executive Officer Sally Blount, PhD, who points to the eleven years Dorothy has served as a member of the Board of of Advisors and the vital partnership Ed facilities with Wintrust to strengthen local communities within the Chicago region. 

“We join many others in thanking Ed and Dorothy Wehmer for their tireless work, loyal support, and courageous leadership on behalf of our Church, so many of our charitable organizations, and, in particular, the hundred of thousands of people Catholic Charities serves each year.” 
Drawing from his youth and time spent working as a delivery boy, cooler cleaner, and parking lot guard throughout middle school, high school, and college, today Ed Wehmer remains dedicated to giving other hardworking students “a leg up in the world.”

“When I was a student at Loyola Academy, there was a strong emphasis on service and social responsibility,” he says. “Loyola did a good job of grounding us with a good education, strong critical thinking skills, and the Jesuit values of faith and service. That emphasis on helping others always stuck with me—and set the course for me and many of my classmates. It was during my Ramblers years that I realized I wanted to be a force for good in the world.” 

Ed currently serves as lead director at Stepan Company (NYSE), a chemical manufacturing and distribution company in Northfield;  as director of the Catholic Extension Society of America; chair of Northwestern Memorial Hospital Foundation; audit committee member of Northwestern Memorial Health Care; trustee for Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and Foundation; and board member and vice chairman of the finance board of the Archdiocese of Chicago. He has been recognized with the Champions for Children’s Corporate Award by the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation; the Dreamkeepers Mentor Award by LINK Unlimited, which links high-potential Black students with the resources and support for success as they advance to, through, and beyond college; the Mary Ellen Nolan Guardian Angel Award from Amate House, a young-adult service and leadership development program grounded in social justice, faith, and community; and many more. 

Wintrust Financial Corporation is also a force for good in Chicago’s communities—which comes as no surprise, with Wehmer and his Jesuit values at the helm. Wintrust conducts regular financial literacy training and classes for community residents from low-income households—often in partnership with churches, community groups, and child welfare organizations. They also provide financial support for everything from local community centers and little leagues to nonprofit organizations such as Big Shoulders Fund, Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, Bernie’s Book Bank, Amate House, and many more like the Cristo Rey Network of schools for low-income youth, including Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School on Chicago West Side and St. Martin de Porres High School in Waukegan, both of which Wintrust has been instrumental in nurturing the development and success. 

“At Loyola Academy, we were taught to be men for others,” Ed Wehmer reflects. “It was so ingrained in us to give back to meet society’s needs. Today, Wintrust really gets involved in its communities. It’s the fun part of what we do.” 

The idea of community banking remains a central value of Wintrust, which has a vested interest in building strong communities. This stems from Dorothy and Ed’s own values, which place family—and fun—first.  Dorothy and Ed recently celebrated 41 years of marriage and have watched their six children grow into successful young adults all of whom reside in the Chicagoland area: Jennifer I. Lucas ’99, Edward J. Wehmer Jr. ’01, Meggie Wehmer Anders '03 (Woodlands Academy), Erin M. Wehmer ’05, Mary Alison “Ali” Wehmer Sedlak ’07, and Christopher M. Wehmer ’12. They delight in time spent with their children and grandchildren, including Johnny, Claire, and Matthew Lucas; Edward III “Tripp” and Cecelia “Cece” Wehmer; and Patrick “PJ” and Ryan Anders ( one on the way!). 

Lord, teach me to be generous,
to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost...

By living this wisdom with their good works and generosity, Dorothy and Ed make our mission possible. 

The Lord Award was established in 1963 to honor those who have provided unwavering support for and distinguished service in the cause of youth. Named for Rev. Daniel A. Lord, SJ (1888–1955), recipients of the award are carefully selected to honor those who make a difference in the lives of many young people. All proceeds from the 2021 President’s Dinner will help transform lives by supporting the Rev. Patrick E. McGrath, SJ, Endowed Scholarship.  

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