Members of the United Way of the Greater Salt Lake Area gathered Wednesday to wish a co-founder of the Salt Lake Community Chest happy birthday and name their board room after him.
John M. Wallace, who turned 95 Wednesday, has been a moving force in promoting charitable giving in the area.Generosity and civic responsibility had been a family trademark. He and his father, William R. Wallace, were among the co-founders of the Community Chest in 1926. He served as chairman in 1929 - the year the stock market collapsed. Despite national financial upheaval, the chest raised 91 percent of its funding goal that year.
In 1954, the Community Chest became the United Fund and in 1972 again changed, this time to the United Way.
"But it's been basically the same group of agencies, overall," said Laura Winder of the United Way. "Last year we honored Wallace as a founding member and named him chairman of the Alexis de Toqueville Society, made up of those who give $10,000 or more to the agency."
Wallace was born in Salt Lake Dec. 14, 1893, and graduated from the University of Utah, then earned his Master of Business Administration at Harvard. He married Glenn Walker, well known for her own charitable gifts. She is the daughter of the founder of Walker Bank (now part of First Interstate Bank). Her father, M.H. Walker, was a founding member of the first local charitable organization, the Salt Lake Charity Association, in 1904.
Wallace became president and chairman of the board of the bank. In addition, he founded or directed United Park City Mines, Salt Lake Industrial, the Big Delta Ranch, Godiva Mining Company, Arizona Ranch and Metals Company, Whitmore Oxygen, Banner Mining, the Utah Foundation (a tax research organization), Western Airlines and Enercor.
The Wallaces have been strong supporters of a number of enterprises, including Holy Cross Hospital, Westminster College, the U. and St. Vincent de Paul.