Philanthropy Through Grace
One of the greatest thrills I have in my profession is to meet true community leaders and philanthropists. When I pulled up to the MacAllister Machinery Company recently and saw P. E. MacAllister at his desk, I knew I was in for something special. I had known about P. E. for many years. He has been very involved as a television journalist with shows on PBS and educational television for a number of years in my community.
He has also written more than 1,000 articles and continues to write on a variety of subject matter including history, business, politics and philanthropy. If you can name it, he has written about it. No one knows more about world history than Mr. MacAllister. He has traveled around the world and studied world history for many years.
P. E. (Pershing Edwin) MacAllister is chairman of the board at MacAllister Machinery Co., a Caterpillar dealership started by his father in 1945. He was born in 1918 in Green Bay, Wis. His father, E. W. (Edwin William) was a veteran of World War I. P. E. was named Pershing after U.S. Army General John Joseph “Black Jack” Pershing. He graduated from Carroll College in Waukesha, Wis., with a major in history and minors in English and speech. He has put these attributes to great use.
A longtime admirer of opera, P. E. created and hosted the MacAllister Awards. The competition offered the largest non-restricted monetary awards in North America for opera singers age 34 and younger. Many young opera singers credit the MacAllister Awards for helping them launch successful careers.
He has received many awards during this lifetime, including honorary doctorate degrees, industry leadership and philanthropic awards, two Sagamore of the Wabash Awards and the Sachem Award, Indiana’s highest state award, from Gov. Mike Pence. This award is given once annually to a Hoosier who demonstrates wisdom, judgment and grace, and whose character shows the importance of providing a moral example. The name comes from the Algonquin term given to leaders who exhibit those qualities.
The purpose of my visit was to thank him for giving to The Salvation Army for many years. I knew in my research before the visit that his company gave a certain percentage of their annual profit to charity. This meant in any given year more than 75 charities would receive a gift from MacAllister Machinery. That is a lot of development people knocking on his door! When I asked this community leader, WWII veteran, philanthropist and historian how and why he promotes philanthropy, his answer was simple. He said he was a beneficiary of grace and feels compelled to pay it forward.
The Bible Dictionary defines grace as the only means to which any person can ever do any good works. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is kindness from God we do not deserve. There is nothing we have done, nor can ever do to earn his favor. It is a gift from God. P. E. said his education and job, for example, involved grace. He feels he has a special responsibility to give back to others. He also states that recipient charities must be well run, have a good board and spend dollars on the purposes intended in a way to help mankind.
He promotes philanthropy and is encouraging his son and grandson to follow the torch. Did I say P. E., who continues to play an executive role each day in his office, is 97 years old? He is amazing. I asked him how he would like to be remembered, and he said he wants to be remembered as a “player in the game.”
It is always a unique opportunity to meet philanthropists like P. E. MacAllister. He walks the walk with grace and style. You are lucky in a long nonprofit career to meet a few legendary people that you will always remember. I met one of those today. He showed me what the term “grace” really means.
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.