Isabel & Alfred Bader

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Canada-born Isabel Overton brought a passion for drama and poetry; Austria-born Alfred Bader had fled the Nazis and appreciated the finer points of Dutch art. Their relationship would intertwine over the span of decades, bringing together two individuals with varied interests, but who share a belief in the power of arts, faith, and justice.

For Isabel, the daughter of a northern Ontario family, the spoken word was a connection to a wider world. Drama and poetry gave her the confidence to stand before others, so after graduating from Victoria University in Toronto, she went to England, where she taught schoolchildren and shared her love for performance.

For Alfred, art, faith, and chemistry were his guiding lights. As a Jewish teen who fled the spreading Nazi threat in late-1930s Europe, he came to North America to not only survive, but to also hone his scientific talents and work toward a better life.

Isabel and Alfred’s first encounter was aboard a transatlantic voyage to England in 1949, but they went on to build separate lives. Isabel pursued a teaching career, while Alfred devoted his efforts to starting a family and building a business in the U.S. Three decades later, they would eventually reconnect, with their interests refined by their life experiences.

Just as Isabel’s commitment to drama and poetry lifted her sights, she believes the performing arts should captivate audiences, as well as elevate those on stage. Her personal passion for the performing arts has helped reach young audiences and built new venues to showcase the best the arts have to offer.

Alfred’s early personal experience with intolerance shines a light on those working to overcome injustice across the world. At home, building a business during some of Milwaukee’s most turbulent times emphasized the need for ensuring opportunity for all citizens. For youth, struggling families, and the unemployed, there are various needs across the community, while faith and values play a key role in lasting personal change.


The Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund seeks to build on that shared commitment to a better, more equitable world. With a focus on Milwaukee, as well as projects with a global reach, the Fund seeks to support those who are working with those in need, but who realize the human value within each of us.


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