Who We Are

Who We Are

Our Story

Robert Dau created the Robert Jensen Dau Foundation in 2015.  Robert was born and raised in Petoskey, Michigan. One of three boys, he grew up surrounded by family and the natural beauty of Northern Michigan. Robert attended both Berkshire and Petoskey High Schools and graduated from the University of Michigan. Our founder ran the Michigan Maple Block Company in Petoskey until the early 1980’s.  

Robert had many passions during his life. As a young man, he developed a love for art and architecture, a passion that continued throughout his life. An artist and woodcarver in his own right, his works are displayed at St. George's School in Newport, RI, St. Margaret's Church in Palm Desert, CA, and Church of The Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, IL. He was an ardent supporter and friend of Klaus Ihlenfield and Harry Bertoia, and he commissioned Pietro P. Vinotti to sculpt Chief Petoskey overlooking Little Traverse Bay.

Robert enjoyed spending time in his gardens and delighted in helping others experience this passion through contributions to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and the Living Desert. Having grown up with dyslexia, Robert knew the importance of a good education and a foundation in reading and writing. This passion for the written word was something he and his daughter Fernanda shared. 

Prior to his death, Robert requested that a prize be established to promote budding writers. He knew that Ernest Hemingway, a long time summer resident of northern Michigan and a contemporary of his mother, had spent a winter writing in Petoskey and thought, why not help find the next Hemingway? This resulted in the creation of the PEN/Dau Prize for Emerging Writers.

Above everything Robert was a devoted family man.