Exterior of Nancy Nicholas Hall in the evening, with lamps and windows glowing.
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Albert "Al" Toon, Jr., 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Since graduating from the School of Human Ecology, Albert “Al” Toon (’95; pictured second from right) has had many notable accomplishments. Between an outstanding career in the NFL, his successful entrepreneurial endeavors, and being a devoted husband and father, Toon has always found time to give back to his community.

[Adapted from the nomination statement]

Al was chosen as one of Madison’s 50 Most Influential People in 1992, reflecting his widespread impact on the city as an investor, licensed realtor, developer, and business owner. As a graduate of SoHE’s Consumer Science program, Al often displays his passion for understanding and helping others. As owner and partner in Olson Toon Landscaping, Toon helped the company diversify its services and strives to bring an emphasis on customer satisfaction to every aspect of the business. At the same time, his hands-on approach to management has earned him the respect of the company’s employees as well as the customers. Additionally, Al is very proud of his role as director and founding team member of Capitol Bank in 1995.

From Receiving to Giving

In 1995, Al was inducted into the UW Athletic Hall of Fame in recognition of his record-setting tenure as a wide receiver for the Wisconsin Badgers from 1981-1984. Excelling at the sport, he was later inducted into the New York Jets Ring of Honor in 2011 as recognition for his success at the professional level as well. Since retiring his passion for the sport has not wavered, contributing to his status as a long-standing donor to Badger Athletics, past president of he UW’s national letter winner’s club, and a past position on the Green Bay Packers Board of Directors.

Equally important to Toon is giving back to the local community. Beyond that of the Packers, he also served on the Board of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. For the School of Human Ecology, Al has been willing to leverage his celebrity status to bring attention to new initiatives like the Community and Nonprofit Leadership degree program, the beneficiary of proceeds from the Spring 2012 football scrimmage. His involvement at the school reaches beyond his areas of study; in the spring of 2016 he served as a juror for the Sergenian Rug Design competition for Textiles & Fashion Design students and recently visited SoHE’s Preschool Lab with his wife Jane—a return visitor—as guest readers. And, when Dean Soyeon Shim sought the couples’ input on the Prenatal to Five Initiative, Al and Jane heartily endorsed the program.

Family Matters

His history as an athlete, philanthropist, and business leader contribute greatly to his success, but Al’s greatest triumph is his role as father. He and Jane are the proud parents of four children, son, Nick, and daughters, Kirby, Molly, and Sydney. As parents they have been involved in their children’s lives, encouraging them to develop their skills and talents and to work hard toward achieving their goals. All four have graduated or nearly completed college degrees and well on their way to successful careers. It is in this way that Al would define success.

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes graduates of the School of Human Ecology who have achieved significant recognition in their chosen profession or life’s work. Through this work, they have improved the quality of life for others and brought honor to themselves, their community, the School of Human Ecology, and the University of Wisconsin.