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One Family’s Focus on the Future

Dennis and Evelyn Shaw

Dennis and Evelyn Shaw


“I don’t think much about the past. I think more about the future. I prefer to be thinking about what I want to be doing tomorrow.” – Dale Chihuly


When we think about philanthropy, we often think about the impact one can make today. When Arkansas natives and Crystal Bridges supporters Dennis and Evelyn Shaw think about philanthropy, they think about the impact one can make tomorrow.


I recently sat down with Dennis and Evelyn to discuss their thoughts on philanthropy when Dennis shared the above quote by Chihuly. “Our concept of giving goes beyond our lifetime,” shared Dennis. “We focus on the future.”


Dennis and Evelyn have given their talents and treasures to many wonderful organizations in Arkansas. The moment they learned the Walton family was building an art museum in Bentonville, they realized this project would be unprecedented. Just a year after the museum was announced, Dennis and Evelyn decided to include Crystal Bridges in their estate plans.


“It was so early we did not even know the name of the museum we were listing as a beneficiary, so we later had to revise it to make it a legal name,” chuckled Evelyn. However, they did know the museum would be a game changer for Arkansas.


Aerial view of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Photo by Tim Hursley

Aerial view of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Photo by Tim Hursley


“We grew up without the opportunities Crystal Bridges offers,” Dennis explained. An architectural enthusiast and artist himself, Dennis is thrilled to have such an important cultural resource take root in his home community. “It elevates the status of our state.”


When asked why they made the decision to include Crystal Bridges in their estate plans, the Shaws shared they were inspired by others. “The community itself is a giving community. Here in Northwest Arkansas there are the Waltons, Georges, Tysons, Walkers, Joneses, Scotts and so many other generous families. It’s the kind of thing that you’d like to be part of – to give back,” explained Dennis.


They also spoke of values. “Most everybody values their family, but your values go beyond your family,” Evelyn shared. “People value their church, medical resources, community, art, and education. Nobody has enough to give to everything; you have to pick and choose. The process of choosing helps you and your family know who you are. We have told our kids that they’re not getting [the gift allocated to Crystal Bridges], but that way they know what we value and have a broader sense of who we are.”


Dennis added, “Crystal Bridges will benefit Northwest Arkansas, our state, and the United States for years to come. What it is and what it will be – that’s why we did it.”


Dennis and Evelyn hope their decision to include Crystal Bridges in their estate plans encourages other families to consider a similar path. Their planned gift allows them to show their love of family and community who will appreciate the museum for generations to come.

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For more information about including Crystal Bridges in your estate plans, or to inform us of a gift already in your plans, contact Emily at (479) 418-5780 or [email protected].

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