Community Giving

Cote Family

Community Foundation(s): Brainerd Lakes Area
Award: 2010 Award in Philanthropy

When Carlton College student Brownie Cote came to the Brainerd Lakes Area as a camp counselor in 1919, little did he know how many lives he would eventually touch.

“He had a vision for the area,” his son, Sam Cote, said. “He saw what was going to happen and committed his life to realizing the potential.”

That vision led Brownie to buy the camp in the mid-1920s and open a second camp nearby. The family later bought Grand View Lodge and transformed it into one of Minnesota’s premier vacation and conference destinations. These represent just a few of the Cote’s family’s known business successes.

Behind the scenes, Brownie and his wife Judy quietly instilled not only a successful entrepreneurial spirit in their children, but also a responsibility to give back. The Brainerd Lakes Area Community Foundation recognized the Cotes’ commitment to community with the 2010 Award in Philanthropy.

Youth remains a philanthropic priority for the family, said Bob Cote, who leads the Cote Foundation.

“We want to make a difference in people’s lives — particularly among children,” he said.

While the Cote family has enriched many community organizations and programs, it’s not the number of causes they have supported or the size of the gifts that define Judy and Brownie’s legacy. “It’s a belief in people and potential,” said Fred Boos, husband of their daughter, Mary. “We have a responsibility to help our communities grow and become better. But we don’t toot our own horn about it. It’s just something that needs to be done.”