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The Foundation’s mission is to foster, encourage and support competitive sailing among Chicago’s youth on a local, regional and national level, and the education and training of youth in the sport of sailing.


Columbia’s Chester Kuttner Foundation was founded in 1994 by LaVerne Kuttner and Reese Elledge to honor the memory of Chester Kuttner and to share and promote Chester’s love and devotion to sailing.

To that end, the Foundation’s mission was set to foster, encourage and support competitive sailing on a local, regional and national level, and to advance the education and training of youth in the sport of sailing.

The foundation chose to target the students from the Chicago Public School System and in particular, those children who showed an interest in the sport but not the financial ability to participate on their own.

If you are a sailor you are keenly aware of the skills required to handle the varying wind and sea conditions, as well as the knowledge needed about the boats themselves.  The Foundation believes that experience will not only add weeks of fun and enjoyment for the students, but also a new skill set that will hopefully bring them success in all their endeavors throughout their lives.

chester kuttner

Chester Kuttner was born in Chicago and lived his entire life within the boundaries of this great city.  He always said that he made his living in advertising but he sailed for a living.

Chester was an athlete for most of his life and sailed in more than 1,500 races in the Chicago area, including 58 consecutive Chicago to Mackinac races.  At the age of 78, the year before he died, Chester won first place in his division in the 1992 Mackinac race with his boat, Kutty’s Ark.

In 1937 he founded Kuttner & Kuttner, Inc., which at the time was one of the oldest privately owned advertising agencies in Chicago.  Chester’s advertising career spanned over five decades and his agency serviced local and national clientele including the original Goldblatt’s Department Stores, Bell Federal Savings, R & M Kaufmann Woman’s Fashions, The Trane Company (formerly General Electric Company, Heating & Cooling Divisions), Red Strip Beer and Iceberg Vodka, to name just a few.

Kuttner was devoted to the City of Chicago and spent many of his early years involved in local politics.  He was one of the founding members of the Independent Voters of Illinois.  He actively worked on the campaigns of Mayor Richard J. Daley, Representative Sidney Yates and Governor Adlai Stevenson.


Chester was a stanch opponent to the federal government’s cost-cutting obsession in public housing construction that lead to the infamous high-rise towers that are still seen in isolated plots throughout the city, and supported the fight for Chicago to open all of its neighborhoods to subsidized families.


A lifetime member of the Columbia Yacht Club, a former commodore of the Island Goats Sailing Society and Director of the Sail Squadron of the Lake Michigan Yachting Association, he was born to sail.

board of directors


Gerald H. Thomas
President and Director


Mary R. Izzo
Secretary and Director


Thomas Taylor
Treasurer and Director

William Bartz

John Sheehan


Peter Kuttner

Matthew Howard

William Spence

Columbia’s Chester Kuttner Foundation is an Illinois Not for Profit Corporation, incorporated on April 27, 1994.

– Secretary of State File No. 5778-997-2 and Cook County Recorder Document No. 94410843, both dated May 6, 1994.

– The Foundation is exempted from Federal income tax as an organization described in Section 501 (c)(iii) of the Code.

– The Foundation is a “private foundation” within the meaning of Section 509(a) of the Code.

– Donors may deduct contributions to the Foundation as provided in Section 507.

– The Foundations EID No. 36-3975888.

The Registration Statement required of a charitable organization under the Illinois Charitable Trust Act and the Illinois Solicitation for Charitable Purposes Act is filed with the Illinois Attorney General.

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