About Us

Our Mission

The mission of the James B. and Melita A. McDonough Foundation is to promote charitable, educational and health related activities and to especially provide such opportunities for children and families in Dubuque and the greater Eastern Iowa area.

The Foundation offers support to local non-profit organizations that provide educational opportunities, human and social services, and health care for children and their families.

About James & Melita McDonough

James color_largerJames B. McDonough was born on February 12, 1914, on a farm in rural Delaware County, Iowa. Jim was the youngest of seven children born to Frank and Kathryn McDonough. He graduated from high school in Monticello, Iowa and attended the former Lenox College in Hopkinton, Iowa. After a year of college he began his sales career at Montgomery Ward in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Throughout his life, Jim was a salesman and entrepreneur.

During World War II Jim served in the US Army’s 232nd Signal Corps as a high-speed radio operator throughout the South Pacific. He witnessed the surrender of Japan aboard the US Missouri in 1945. He was honorably discharged and return to sales at Montgomery Ward as department head in Cedar Rapids, Webster City and then Dubuque, Iowa.

Jim loved the life of a salesman, continuing to make sales calls until he retired at age 86. He sold housewares, advertising specialties and real estate. He was a licensed real estate agent and involved in real estate development.

He was one of the original partners in the Plaza 20 development in Dubuque. At the time, the Plaza 20 was a modern idea of a shopping center. He was also a partner in Palmer Drug and had interest in 12 drug stores throughout the area. His real estate holdings grew to involve properties in several Eastern Iowa communities, as well as Arizona.

On July 27, 1963, Melita and Jim were married at St. Patrick’s church in Dubuque. She was 47 and Jim was 49. They met during Jim sales calls at the company were Melita was a professional secretary. They never had children of their own, but enjoyed the many nieces and nephews in the McDonough family.

From humble beginnings, Jim was modest about his business accomplishments. He credited Melita for her assistance in helping his business ventures succeed. For the charitable gifts he and Melita gave, they sought no public recognition, preferring to live quietly. The McDonough Charitable Foundation is Jim’s and Melita’s legacy gift to future generations.

Melita McDonoughMelita A. Nank was born in the Eagle Point area of Dubuque, Iowa on March 10, 1916. She was the only child of Adam and Minnie Nank and lived in Dubuque all her life. She graduated from Dubuque Senior High School and considered herself as “100% Dubuque”.

After high school graduation, Melita initially went to work in retail. Later she joined Farley and Loetscher Manufacturing, where she worked as a professional secretary for 25 years. Here she met Jim McDonough, a salesman who called on the company. After the company closed, she started at First National Bank, leaving a few years after she and Jim married to help him with his growing business enterprises.

Jim credited Melita with helping him expand his businesses. Her organizational skills and banking experience were assets to their success. They traveled together to visit Jim’s many business ventures and Melita’s opinion always mattered.

They were married for 46 years and were devoted to each other. Each felt they had married their best friend. They enjoyed simple things like driving together, music, art, painting and their extended family.