Joe Wiedenbeck sits on a couch at his home

The Wiedenbecks: When Giving is a Family Business

Giving Voice Spring 2020: Donor Story

When Joe Wiedenbeck and his late wife Rosemary moved to Oswego County 45 years ago from Buffalo, they worked hard to grow their family and their business with limited means and big dreams. Along the way, they received ample support from the community and their two children, Sue and Joe III. By the time Rosemary and Joe retired 32 years later, their company, Oneida Lake Energy Products, was delivering heating fuels all over Central New York.

“The community, the county, the town – everybody was so good to us and supported our business,” said Joe. “And it’s always been a pleasure to give back.”

Generosity has always been a part of the Wiedenbecks’ story. Rosemary, for example, was actively involved with a number of civic groups during her lifetime, including the Brewerton Chamber of Commerce, through which she and a number of her peers started a scholarship program for Central Square students. Nearly 25 years later, the program is still active.

Shortly after Rosemary’s passing in 2006, Joe and his daughter, Sue, opened the Joseph and Rosemary Wiedenbeck Family Fund at the Community Foundation. Through this donor-advised fund, Joe and Sue sustain their family’s community-centered legacy by supporting a broad spectrum of charitable causes annually. While their areas of interest include health and human service organizations, arts and educational initiatives, and a range of animal rescues, they place particular emphasis on giving back in Oswego County, where the family business got its start.

“Through hard work, honesty, integrity and generosity toward their employees and the community-at-large, my parents created a company that was well-known and respected and one that was ultimately a foundation for their generosity through this fund,” said Sue.

Joe and Sue share cherished memories of the early days of the business, when the whole family of four would ride with Joe in the fuel truck on weekends to Oil City to fill up the company bulk tanks in Constantia.

While Joe and Sue also share in the grantmaking decisions from their fund, it is important to Joe that his family’s legacy of giving will continue even after he is gone, first under Sue’s guidance, and then ultimately as a permanent fund at the Community Foundation.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my life,” said Joe. “I’ve always wanted to share what I have with others and it is comforting to know that, through our fund, this will never really go away.”

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