Special Honors and Highlights

Special Honors and Highlights

Our Foundation works tirelessly every year to invest in the community, create change, and innovate the way we and Memphis think about the non-profit sector. We always enjoy reflecting on the past year's accomplishments and struggles, but more importantly we reflect on the people who made everything possible. This year, we honor Spence Wilson, Sr for his exemplary leadership as the foundation's Chairman of the Board of Directors; Dorothy Wilson [1917-2001] who helped lead the way in establishing SRVS-Shelby Residential Vocational Services; and Kemmons Wilson [1913-2003], whose benevolent spirit furthered the ministry of helping homeless men at Calvary Rescue Mission.

Spence Wilson Retires from the Board of Directors


Spence Wilson, the eldest of the five children of Kemmons and Dorothy Wilson, announced his retirement from the KWFF Board of Directors in 2017.  Retirement isn’t the right word. The word jubilee carries the meaning of liberation and freedom. The freedom to pursue post career dreams and priorities. Beloved for his many years of servant leadership and wise counsel, Spence was showered with admiration and well wishes at his jubilee celebration at the foundation's board meeting in November.  Along with his many years as Chairman of the Board for the Kemmons Wilson Family Foundation, his many professional associations have included: Chairman of the Board, Orange Lake Country Club,Inc.; Trustee, Rhodes College; Director, Thomas W.Briggs Foundation; Trustee, Baptist Memorial Health Care System,Inc.; Director, BMHC Metropolitan Board of Directors; Board Member, Society of Entrepreneurs; Director, Meritage Capital,LLC.  With appreciation and gratitude for all you are and all you will continue to do for our community, Thank You from the Wilson Family, KWFF Board, Advisory Board, and Staff!

A Tribute to Dorothy Wilson

Celebrating 55 years, SRVS annual Sparkling Nights Auction, Wine and Food Tasting featured a legacy tribute to Dorothy Wilson, as a co-founder of SRVS and wife of Holiday Inn founder Kemmons Wilson.  Mrs. Wilson, 1970s National Mother of the Year, helped lead the way in establishing SRVS.  In 1962, determined to find work for people with disabilities, she chaired a House-to-House Campaign, mobilizing 6000 mothers to march door-to-door paving the way for the city’s first Sheltered Occupational Shop, SRVS’ founding program.  SRVS has grown to become the leading and largest comprehensive service provider in Tennessee supporting more than 1500 people with disabilities from birth throughout life.  KWFF continues to be a proud partner in this great work.

The Benevolent Spirit of Kemmons Wilson

The Calvary Rescue Mission broke ground for their new facility and hosted an open house for its 50th anniversary April 4, 2017.  The nearly century-old former church building at 960 South Third was firebombed by rioters after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.  The building was owned by what was then the Memphis-based Holiday Inn hotel chain.  The building went unused until Holiday Inn founder, Kemmons Wilson, donated the building to the rescue mission in 1972.  Calvary has hosted over 600,000 overnight lodgings, they have seen 25,000 men make decisions for Christ, and have fed about 1.4 million men.  The new  $4 million facility will increase their capacity from housing 46 to housing 112 homeless men a night.

You need to take charge of change, or else change will take charge of you.
Kemmons Wilson