The Friends of Bettendorf Parks Foundation has received a generous donation from the estate of a former park commissioner, Joanne Updegraff.
A Bettendorf parks commissioner from 1986 to 1996 Updegraff was instrumental in helping grow the Bettendorf Park system. The long-time Bettendorf resident died Nov. 10, 2018. She was 84.
As an avid swimmer and advocate, teaching the life skill of swimming was important to Updegraff and her family. Per her family's request, the foundation will use her donation to help defray the costs of swimming lessons and pool access for young swimmers with financial constraints.
Through her gift, the Friends hope to continue her legacy by helping teach young swimmers.
According to Updegraff's obituary, she was a gifted athlete and enjoyed tennis, golf, swimming and basketball. A 1956 University of Iowa graduate, she earned a degree in physical education and had taught physical education before raising a family with her husband Clarence Updegraff Jr. He preceded her in death.
She was a strong advocate for girls participating in high school and collegiate sports, in part, because Illinois did not have girls high school sports when she grew up. The Updegraff Family Scholarship at the University of Iowa provides financial support for women athletes.
The Friends is a 13-member, non-profit group helping support Bettendorf Park facilities as well as families with financial difficulties to enjoy the city's park system.