Why We Give: Dick and Zyla Deane

Philanthropic Services Group

The Denver Foundation

A love of Denver drove a lifetime of giving for this generous couple.

A love for Denver was one of many things that Dick and Zyla "Ze" Deane shared over more than 60 years of marriage. They also shared a feeling of responsibility to pay forward the privilege and success they enjoyed. During their lifetimes, their generosity touched dozens of organizations in our community.

Dick died in 2016 and Ze just a year later. But through their children and The Deane Family Fund at The Denver Foundation, their philanthropic legacy will continue.

Dick moved to Denver for a job with General Motors in the early 1950s, and Zejoined him a short time later. Both felt there was something special about Denver. Before long, the couple knew it was where they wished to make their home and raise a family.

In 1960, Dick opened Deane Buick, which he ran for the next 30 years. The success of the dealership enabled the Deanes to dive into their passions for giving back and connecting with the community.

As a prolific artist, Ze was drawn to arts and culture organizations.

"She was always the brightest smile and most welcoming person in the room," says daughter Meg Franko, noting that Ze was more private with both her art and her philanthropy than her husband was.

Dick held a special fondness for organizations that serve children, especially those that provide early childhood education and positive youth development. He felt that high­quality early learning and supportive youth environments could provide children with opportunities that would last a lifetime. He wanted his philanthropy to reflect that.

"He was a skilled businessman, but it was his community work that really drove him," says Meg.

 William Cope of the Boys and Girls Club of Denver (left) Dick Deane (right)

Dick served on so many boards that his grandchildren fondly referred to him as "GrandChair." He led boards of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Mile High United Way, Denver Metro Chamber, the Clayton Foundation, and many more. He liked to use his business and financial skills to help the nonprofits he supported be financially strong. He led the Clayton Foundation's efforts to create a sustainable business model and provide support to children of all backgrounds.

Their parents' generosity and their father's community connections were a constant for Meg, her sister, and her brother throughout their childhood. While Meg says they didn't often speak directly about philanthropy, they shared their charitable mindset through their actions. "Make the world an even better place" was a regular mantra from Dick.

Dick and Ze's legacy includes a bequest to their donor-advised fund at The Denver Foundation, which is advised by the Deane children.

"They were in love with Denver," says Meg, "and they saw The Denver Foundation as an important part of sustaining the organizations that make the community vibrant." Meg says she and her siblings will continue their parents' legacy of giving by supporting the causes and the city that their parents cared about so deeply.

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