Axel W. Carlson was born on a humble farm in Sweden in the early 1890’s. In his youth he not only learned farming skills, but also learned the carpentry skills that sustained him after he immigrated to the Southern Tier when he was in his teens. He and his wife eventually settled in Sunnyside, which is located in the Town of Ellery. Mr. Carlson worked hard all his life, and saved and invested his money wisely. He was always there to help people in need, but never looked for a reward or recognition. He was always interested in assisting individuals rather than institutions.
Axel W. Carlson passed away in 1981, leaving a substantial portion of his estate to assist the people in the community he left behind. In 1985, a portion of the Axel W. Carlson Fund was set aside to honor individuals that served their community like Mr. Carlson did before them. The Axel W. Carlson Award is designed to honor and demonstrate appreciation for individual efforts to make the community the best it can be, without expectation of honor or financial gain.
As a public organization, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation uses the Axel W. Carlson Award as a unique expression of appreciation to recognize the importance of individual effort in our community.