PEORIA — The Peoria Riverfront Museum received a $1 million donation from a Woodruff High School graduate and his wife, officials there said Tuesday.
T. Bondurant “Bon” French and Hollis "Holly" S. French made the donation, which will honor work Bon French's parents performed for the museum's predecessor, Lakeview Museum of Arts and Sciences.
His mother, Joan Trenchard French, was one of Lakeview's founding members and created its first docent and school loan programs, as well as an after-school program for underserved neighborhoods. The PRM's welcome area on the lower level will be named after her.
His father, Taylor French, served as chairman of Lakeview's board. Some of the donation will endow a fund to support the Center for American Decoys at the museum. Taylor French had a passion for duck hunting and admired decoy folk art.
“We make this investment in the Peoria Riverfront Museum now because we believe the Museum is on the rise with a unique multidisciplinary mission that is making a difference for many thousands of people,” Bon French said in a release sent by the museum announcing the donation. “We also wanted to give back to Peoria and supporting the Museum is one of the ways we could do that.”
Bon French is chairman of the Chicago-based private equity firm Adams Street Partners. He's a 1971 Woodruff graduate who has a bachelor's and a master of business administration degree from Northwestern University. He serves on a variety of boards and committees there.
"Bon French is among the most respected business leaders and major donors for museums and education in Chicago," said museum CEO John Morris in a prepared statement. "When we began discussions about this gift with him last year, we wanted to find a way to help him do something very special for his hometown while also honoring his parents. This extraordinary gift is the largest of its kind from a former Peorian in support of the museum and its mission. Lives will be changed because of it.”