The Gift of Giving

The Gift of Giving

Bill and Cheryl Stegbauer love each other by loving others

Words by Miranda Shaffer

Bill and Cheryl Stegbauer have been married for 40 years, but their love story created more than a successful marriage and happy family. It has affected the lives of hundreds through their combined passion for helping others locally and beyond.

The Stegbauers became involved in philanthropy as a way to reconnect as a couple in spite of their busy work schedules. The two would research charity events, and after finding a few that interested them both, would attend them together on weekends. It was a unique two-in-one experience as the couple found an occasion to spend quality time together while benefiting organizations they were enthusiastic about supporting.

Since the early days of their marriage, the Stegbauers have supported the nonprofit Orpheum Theatre Group. Right in their hometown of Memphis, the Orpheum Theatre is an important historical landmark for performing arts and offers events such as its annual Broadway show series, music series, film series, theatre series, community events, and more. The Group is a central hub for artists and performers across the nation, sponsoring local shows and investing in at least three plays a year, several of which have run on Broadway and have even secured Tony Awards. The Stegbauers have been season ticket owners for years, regularly attending Sunday matinee performances. With his business background, Bill has aided the Theatre by serving as Finance Committee Chairman, Treasurer, Vice Chairman, and now as Chairman of the Board overseeing operations. 

Another Memphis based organization the Stegbauers have supported through the years is The Mary Galloway Home, an assisted living facility for elderly women in financial need. Cheryl’s background as a nurse practitioner, along with her PhD in nursing and years spent on the Board of the University of Tennessee School of Nursing has made her an invaluable asset on the Board of the Mary Galloway Home. She participates in many health care activities at the Home designed to make it a safe and pleasant environment for all of the residents.

The couple has supported projects with the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County, fundraisers for the Special Olympics of West Tennessee, and even a fund to make a full scholarship available to University of Tennessee School of Nursing students, founded in Cheryl’s name by one of her former students. The Stegbauers work with a great variety of charities, but the thing that remains the same is their heartfelt response to each organization’s inspiration to give back.

The Stegbauers’ philanthropic spirit has reached those in need beyond their community of Memphis as well, as they have traveled to numerous states to be more involved with distant charities that have touched their hearts.

The couple has been moved by the work done by several organizations in Florida, including: The Arc of the Emerald Coast, which promotes and protects the rights of people with disabilities; Westonwood Ranch, a special education school for children who are disabled; Pathways for Change, Inc., a program focused on rehabilitation and crime reduction; and the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, which benefits children in need. The Destin Charity Wine Auction is the largest charity with which the Stegbauers are involved, as it benefits 15 children and young adult charities in Florida. When they attended their first event for the charity, the Stegbauers were overwhelmed by the need of the children and knew immediately they wanted to be a part of the solution. Although the local government does provide some resources, homelessness is still a big problem in the area—and the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation raises enough money to fill the gap and provide housing for homeless children and young adults. These kids are able to live semi-normal lives because of the money given for housing and are therefore better equipped to create a brighter future for themselves by ending the cycle of homelessness.

The Stegbauers agree that it is impossible to identify their most rewarding philanthropic experience. Every charity they have worked with holds a special place in their hearts, and when they see the outcome of their investment, it is more than worth all of the time, money, and resources they have donated. As a married couple, joint philanthropy has always brought them closer together and helped their love remain strong. Cheryl sweetly states that through their charity work, she gets to see each and every day her husband’s beautiful, generous heart, one of the biggest reasons she remains so in love after all these years.