Over the years, Jane Burdette has been involved with a wide variety of charitable organizations throughout our community. She has been very active in disability awareness programs and groups, social service and women’s groups and numerous other community organizations. Several years ago, in order to provide support for important charitable causes she cared most about, Ms. Burdette established the Jane E. Burdette Advised Charitable Fund with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation.
“I have been involved with many community groups and have been able to see worthwhile ideas become reality with the Foundation’s assistance,” said Ms. Burdette.
As the daughter of the late Jewel and C. Richard Burdette, Jr., also fund founders at the PACF, Jane was educated in Wood County schools, being the first student to attend regular classes while using a wheelchair for muscular dystrophy, and graduated from Parkersburg High School. She earned college degrees from Parkersburg Community College and Glenville State College and her master’s degree from West Virginia University. She also received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity.
The Jane E. Burdette Advised Charitable Fund provides financial assistance to worthwhile community projects, with special attention to projects that are new, innovative, and creative and those that respond to important community needs.
“In life, all of us are given a torch to carry,” said Ms. Burdette. “It’s up to each and every one of us to keep it burning bright as long as we have it and until we turn it over to someone else.”
The Doddridge County Park offers something for everyone at its site of nearly 250 acres of land and many amenities. With many features and multiple acres to maintain, the Doddridge County Parks and Recreation Commission took a proactive step this year to secure its financial future by establishing a permanent charitable fund with the PACF’s Doddridge County affiliate.
The new Friends of Doddridge County Parks and Recreation Commission Endowment Fund is a long-term permanent source of funding for the park. The Fund will make an annual distribution to the Doddridge County Parks and Recreation Commission to help preserve and maintain the park.
“This permanent support fund enables us to focus our attention on providing an excellent venue for recreational and educational opportunities for visitors,” said Greg Cottrill, Director of the Doddridge County Parks and Recreation Commission. “We’ve been very fortunate to receive grant support from the Foundation. With the $5,000 grant which we recently received, we built the park’s first-ever ‘Yurt,’ a form of lodging for rent beginning in 2017. The Commission’s decision to partner with the Foundation to establish this fund was an easy decision and one we know will prove beneficial for years to come. Once the fund reaches a minimum fund value of $10,000 set by the Foundation, it will annually generate a distribution to the park. The beauty of this setup is that the principal of the fund is never invaded, so it can forever invest and annually issue a distribution to the park. We hope, over time, our initial investment will be paid-back and then some.”
Nick Endrizzi grew up in St. Clairsville, Ohio. He attended West Virginia University prior to serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. After serving, he graduated from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1950. Ann Mahoney grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and graduated from The Ohio State University in 1943. She worked as a laboratory technician at the Battelle Institute of Technology and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine, where she met Nick.
Nick and Ann were married in 1951, and moved to Parkersburg, West Virginia. Nick established the Parkersburg Veterinary Hospital, while Ann managed the office accounts. Nick practiced large and small animal medicine until retiring in 1984.
Nick and Ann were married for 58 years, and raised five children and were both delighted in their ten grandchildren. Ann passed away in 2009, and Nick passed away in 2014. As both of their birthdays were in December, and in the spirit of giving that is Christmas, their children provided a gift in December 2014 to create the Dr. Nick and Ann Endrizzi Memorial Fund.
Their children said that it was their parents’ hope that others in need would benefit from their lifetime of hard work through a memorial fund. Nick and Ann were always faithful supporters of their parish church and its Catholic schools. Nick, in particular, was always very sensitive to persons in need, because of the significant struggles his family faced as a child.
This new memorial fund with the PACF is intended to continue the Endrizzi’s legacy of generous giving for the causes that were most important to them. In honor and memory of Nick and Ann Endrizzi, the annual grants from this new charitable fund will benefit Parkersburg Catholic Schools, St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, and the Salvation Army of Parkersburg.
“My father made sure that any kids who came into his store who needed shoes, left with a new pair on their feet,” Rob Fouss said. “It is a humbling feeling to help others less fortunate and this charitable fund is a way that I can honor my father’s lifelong ambition to help those in need.”
The story of Rob’s father, Robert E. Fouss, began with his birth to Margaret Kehl and William Jacob Fouss on June 20, 1920 in Casey, Illinois. When he was just a young boy, his family moved to Marietta, Ohio. For many years, Fouss walked past a corner store in Marietta and became intrigued with the idea of operating a store of his own. During World War II, Fouss enlisted and became a quartermaster in Manila in the Philippines. He was placed in charge of dispensing equipment for the war effort, including clothes, food and truck parts for the Army.
Upon returning from the war, he began working at Fort Pitt Shoes on Market Street in Parkersburg and, later, opened Ford Shoes in the Grand Central Mall. During his 46 years in business, Fouss only missed a few days of work. After retiring in 1983, he began woodworking, making hundreds of items, including bowls, lamps, candlesticks, kitchen cabinets and arts and crafts pieces.
After his death in 1995, his son, Rob Fouss, said people started telling him stories about how his dad had provided them with shoes through trades for fresh eggs, bacon or other arrangements when they couldn’t afford to pay. These stories touched the family deeply.
In 1999, Rob and his sister, Pam Fouss Wenmoth, established the Robert E. Fouss Memorial Fund, which supports the general charitable purposes of the PACF, with a particular emphasis on providing shoes to children in need, in partnership with area schools and charitable organizations.
Since its establishment, hundreds of children throughout the community have received shoes in the name of their father. To support this fund, please make a donation here.
A passionate crusader for animal welfare, Ruth Hornbrook was born in Marietta, Ohio, more than a century ago. She crossed the Ohio River in 1913 and settled in Parkersburg.
During the 1950’s, Ms. Hornbrook assembled a 25-member group of local citizens to discuss the idea of establishing a humane society for Parkersburg to create a better environment for animals in her community. Ruth spearheaded their efforts to raise funds and to determine a location for the Humane Society of Parkersburg, Inc. She continued her support by serving on the Society’s Board of Directors and helping to initiate many of the programs that remain important components today in the Society’s success, including promoting spaying clinics and youth educational programs.
Her involvement extended far beyond Parkersburg’s city limits. She was influential in crafting key state legislation concerning animal rights and active in the Humane Society of the United States and the American Humane Society.
To ensure support would continue for humane societies statewide, she included a bequest in her will that established the Ruth Hornbrook Memorial Fund with the PACF. This Fund benefits humane societies across West Virginia with preference given to new societies’ needs. Through the grants from this permanent fund, thousands of stray and unwanted animals receive improved care throughout West Virginia annually.
While Ms. Hornbrook passed away in 1989, her kindness and lifelong commitment to the well-being of animals and the humane society movement continues, thanks to the support generated by her fund for the needs of West Virginia’s Humane Societies today and tomorrow.
Kitty Woods, a stenographer for a Ritchie County attorney wrote in her will that, “It is not the purpose of this bequest to relieve the taxpayers of any part of their burden of furnishing schools for the children of the district, but for the purpose of enabling the Board of Education to give to the children of said district advantages they might not otherwise have because of lack of funds.”
Born in 1884 and raised in Ritchie County, WV, Kitty Woods was the daughter of Isaiah Wells Woods and Ella Victoria Lambert, both of whom were lifelong residents of Ritchie County. Ms. Woods was the granddaughter of Salina Wells Woods and Philip Woods, a minister who was born in Pennsylvania and eventually settled in Ritchie County.
Ms. Woods never married or had any children of her own but was very concerned about education and the welfare of children in her area. In 1963, when Ms. Woods passed away, she made a gift to the Ritchie County Board of Education through her estate plans to permanently benefit the students of Harrisville High School (now Ritchie County High School) and Harrisville Elementary.
In 2014, the Ritchie County Board of Education used Ms. Woods’ gift to create the Kitty Woods Support Fund for Ritchie County High School and Harrisville Elementary School with the PACF. This fund is assigned as part of the Foundation’s Ritchie County affiliate collection of funds, the Ritchie County Community Foundation.
Ms. Woods’ generosity allows this fund to continue to make a grant each year to both schools to address educational opportunities for students.
Dr. Robert C. Robinson was a long-time supporter of the Foundation. During his lifetime he joined the Foundation’s Legacy Society and established a charitable remainder trust naming the Foundation as one of the charitable beneficiaries. His planned gift started the Dr. Robert C. Robinson Memorial Fund.
“Bob was a very kind man and quite the rapscallion,” said Mr. Robinson’s step-daughter Suzy McKenna. “He loved playing cards with my mother, dancing, telling jokes and of course was an accomplished optometrist.”
Dr. Robinson was born in 1916 in Marietta, OH. He graduated from Marietta High School, then in 1938, from the Illinois College of Optometry. In World War II, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy. He served in the Pacific Theatre aboard the hospital ship U.S.S. Sanctuary. Upon Dr. Robinson’s return to Parkersburg, he practiced optometry until his retirement in the 1990’s.
Seven years after its creation, the Dr. Robert C. Robinson Memorial Fund has given over $24,000 in funding to organizations in the Mid-Ohio Valley serving women and children in crisis and families affected by domestic violence. Additionally, the fund itself is now worth nearly 25% more than the original gift value. Dr. Robinson’s initial gift will continue to grow and continue to make a positive impact in our region and to help address a troubling need.
Mr. James and Mrs. Trudie Schaughency will forever have a legacy in our region thanks to Mrs. Schaughency’s contribution to our community through a planned estate gift to the PACF. By naming the Foundation as a beneficiary of her estate, Mrs. Schaughency has created the James F. and Trudie A. Schaughency Charitable Fund.
When asked why she made such a commitment Mrs. Schaughency said, “Jim and I had a most interesting, exciting and wonderful life. Hopefully we can in some small way enable others to enjoy a more interesting and productive life.”
Through her gift, Mrs. Schaughency will continue she and Jim’s ongoing support to several organizations plus provide support for the arts in our region. The PACF is thankful for their commitment and we are humbled to welcome Mrs. Schaughency to the Foundation’s Legacy Society.
Tyler Milam Westbrook was many things – a beloved son, husband, father, brother, grandson, son-in-law and uncle; Promise Scholar and 2002 honors graduate of Williamstown High School where he excelled at multiple sports. He was an avid West Virginia University fan and magna cum laude graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2006 and a highly decorated member of the U. S. Army, a Green Beret, graduating as the Distinguished Honor Graduate from the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant Course.
Tyler served in many difficult and challenging assignments over an eight-year period of duty which included multiple tours in Iraq. SFC Tyler Milam Westbrook was 31 years old at the time that he ended his life in the summer of 2015.
Many people wanted to do something to commemorate Tyler’s special life and to remember his leadership and many friendships. While Tyler will be forever remembered for his heroism as a Green Beret and sniper and his dedication to serving our country, his family and friends want to honor his legacy at Williamstown High School and recently initiated the Tyler Milam Westbrook Scholarship Fund with the PACF. Gifts toward Tyler’s scholarship were made to the PACF to form a perpetual memorial award in Tyler’s name each year.
The scholarship was awarded for the first time in May 2016 to the student who earned fourth position among the Williamstown High School graduates, as that was Tyler’s class rank at graduation, with the award continuing in that manner every year thereafter. In this way, Tyler’s legacy will be forever honored at Williamstown High School—his high school in his home town—a place that has meant so much to Tyler and his family over many years.
A new community bicycle safety program is underway in Wood County working to make it safer for those who prefer to pedal around the region. The Wood County Alternative Transportation Council, part of the Wood County Commission, is working to raise awareness about the importance of bicycle safety between cyclists and motorists.
“We are able to do this thanks to the partnership that the Commission formed with the PACF,” said Lloyd Roberts, Chair of the Wood County Alternative Transportation Council. “We’re all local volunteers and establishing a fund with PACF was the best option for us. The PACF folks have been great, helping us through the legal issues, helping us establish the fund, recordkeeping, and basically ‘spoon feeding’ us through our first fundraiser, Give Local MOV.”
Thanks to the new Wood County Trails Fund established at the Foundation by the Wood County Commission in February 2016, the Council now has a structure it can use to fulfill its mission. The Council raised $4,000 through Give Local MOV on May 1, 2017, all which will be used to support the Program. The campaign highlights West Virginia’s bike safety laws that require drivers to allow a three-foot clearance when overtaking cyclists.
“We want both cyclists and motorists to feel comfortable out on the road,” said Roberts. “In addition to this Program, we are working on other projects to make Wood County bike friendly, including installing bicycle racks in the region.”
Gene and Mary Smith, both natives of Ritchie County, instilled a love for education in each of their eight children and in their many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. To honor the Smith’s commitment to education, their family created the O. Eugene and Mary Scott Smith Memorial Fund in 2010. This Fund supports professional development or post-graduate studies (coursework beyond an undergraduate degree) for Ritchie County educators as well as academic school improvement needs within Ritchie County schools.
Focused on enhancing educational opportunities for students and educators, grants awarded from the O. Eugene and Mary Scott Smith Memorial Fund have supported numerous programs on an annual basis. Since its establishment, the fund has awarded over $3,900 to important community projects, including a $1,000 grant awarded to Ritchie County High School (RCHS) in spring 2016 which helped to develop and equip a video production lab at the school.
“As a result of this grant, students at RCHS are gaining real-world video production skills and now routinely publish video content,” said Robert McPeak, teacher at RCHS. “Video Journalism has become very popular at the school. In addition, several students are now pursuing video production related careers as a result of their success in the course.”
This memorial fund ensures that the Smith family’s belief in the value of education will continue to benefit Ritchie County students both now and in the future.
Tennis had always been a large part of Pam Reeves’ life. She started playing as a child and her passion for the sport followed her to Parkersburg High School (PHS) where she played tennis and volleyball. After her PHS graduation in 1981, Pam attended Morehead State College in Kentucky to earn her English, health, and physical education teaching degree. She later returned to the Mid-Ohio Valley to teach. She began her teaching career at various elementary schools in the area and then taught and coached at both Jackson Junior High and Hamilton Middle School.
Pam was hired to serve as the head coach for the PHS tennis team in the early 90’s. Under her guidance, the tennis team won many state titles. During this time, she also obtained Master Degrees from Salem International University and West Virginia University for her Master’s plus 30.
Pam’s life was dedicated to her students. Family and friends recall her having shoes, shorts, and shirts in her classroom for students in need. They also recall the many stories of how she touched the lives of her students and teams over the years.
Not only was her influence felt at the schools, but Pam also had a large love for tennis outside of the competitive atmosphere. She was instrumental in organizing the Vienna and Parkersburg City Park recreational summer leagues for adults and youth and for over 35 years she spearheaded the Jackson Park tennis program.
To continue her legacy for the love of tennis and the youth of our region, Pam’s parents, Donald W. and Margaret Reeves, established the Pam Reeves Memorial Scholarship. Their donation, along with many donations given by local citizens, created a permanent scholarship fund that will forever provide monetary support to a PHS graduate. Pam’s energetic spirit and passion for tennis and the region will forever live-on through this important charitable fund. The first scholarship is to be awarded spring 2018.
A local financial advisor for more than twenty-five years, Bruce Holmes often assisted clients in making stock gifts or establishing charitable funds with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation.
Bruce frequently recommended charitable giving and always felt that Donor Advised Funds were a great philanthropic tool for clients with many different community interests and that the PACF was the right partner. So, it was only natural that since Bruce and Cathy, his wife of forty-seven years, had wide ranging interests, that they, too, create a charitable fund with the PACF.
“I like the flexibility of using my Fund to recommend grants for a variety of current needs,” said Bruce Holmes. “Reviewing the PACF Grants Committee’s list of community requests helps me to target funding to causes that I know are well researched. I’m very impressed with the PACF’s operations and enjoy our partnership.”
Cathy, who passed away in 2016 after a long and courageous battle with cancer, deeply loved animals and supporting area humane societies. The couple’s daughter, Anne, follows her parents as Advisor of the Bruce & Cathy Holmes Advised Fund. Her parents hope to help her discover the joy of giving and to support Anne’s passion for animals.
Later, with a Legacy Society commitment fueling their Fund’s giving, the Holmes’ family’s Donor Advised Fund will use the Foundation’s Grants Committee to accomplish its giving. Far into the future, their family charitable tradition will carry on, continuing to make a positive difference for those who are most vulnerable among us—children and youth; families in crisis; senior citizens; others unable to care for themselves; and the region’s uncared-for animals.
Some people saw Jean Grapes as a dedicated community activist and outspoken political leader. Others knew her as a deeply compassionate person who encouraged, and inspired those around her. A Wirt County native who was proud of her family and her Scottish heritage, Jean Grapes was a trailblazer. The first and only woman elected to the Wood County Commission, Jean’s passion for public service was grounded in a sincere desire to make life better for her community’s citizens.
Growing up through the Great Depression, Jean learned from her parents the importance of giving to those in need even though her own family often had very little. Upon graduating from Wirt County High School, she married David Grapes. Later becoming Wood County’s first female real estate broker, she opened her office in south Parkersburg in 1966, eventually naming it, South Parkersburg Realty.
In many ways, her beloved husband, David, who owned and operated Dave’s Price Rite Market in Lubeck, WV, was the “wind beneath her wings.” Quietly devoted to his family, David was an avid wood worker, who loved gardening and spending time with his dog, Lady, rescued from the animal shelter.
When David passed away in 2010, Jean wanted to do something special to commemorate his generous, caring spirit. She created the David and Jean Grapes Family Charitable Fund, as a long-term support fund for the Parkersburg Area Coalition for the Homeless, House to Home project. Jean had earlier spearheaded efforts to establish the House to Home day shelter, and she and David remained involved for many years.
With Jean’s passing in January 2017, the family desired to further the important work begun by their parents. The Grapes’ family fund will continue to support persons in Wirt and Wood counties who are experiencing homelessness or mental illness, serving as a lasting legacy for the Grapes’ family, ensuring that future generations know of Jean and David’s lifelong commitment to caring for those in our community who are unable to do so for themselves.
Catherine “Cathy” Diana Travis McClain graduated from Doddridge County High School in 1971 and from Salem College, now Salem International University, in 1973 where she obtained her Associate Degree in Nursing. She was employed for twenty-four years by the Doddridge County Health Department as a public health nurse, and during that time she also worked at the Doddridge County Senior Citizens for fifteen years.
Cathy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003. Even through months of clinical trials and chemotherapy, she continued working and taking care of others. After four years of what appeared to be remission, Cathy’s ovarian cancer was discovered again, and it had spread to many of her other organs. Again, she underwent extensive surgery and months of chemotherapy. She continued to work, taking care of anyone and everyone who needed her, but now, at a little slower pace. Her determination to deal with the side effects of chemotherapy, to continue to work, and to fight this terminal illness was an inspiration to everyone who knew her.
“Through it all, Cathy always had a smile on her face and acted as if nothing was wrong,” said Debbie Davis, Cathy’s friend. “She refused to give up and fought to the very end. Cathy would talk about how she had to get better and that all she wanted was to ‘be well enough to get back to work’. She was a remarkable woman who will never be forgotten. In her final days, the idea of establishing a scholarship fund in her name was discussed with Cathy and she loved the idea and even decided what it should be called.”
Cathy passed in January 2008 after a courageous battle. Shortly after her passing, the Cathy McClain Nursing Scholarship was formed with support from Ms. Davis and the Doddridge County CEOs. The scholarship is part of the Foundation’s Doddridge County regional affiliate collection of funds and provides support to a Doddridge County resident, who is a graduating senior or a previous graduate of Doddridge County High School, and who intends to be a full-time student attending a college or university in West Virginia pursing a degree in nursing or related field.
Community improvement work is grounded in relationships. In Doddridge County, WVU Extension Agent Zona Hutson is always working to connect people, organizations, and causes to improve the quality of life for residents.
In her work with WVU Extension, Hutson spearheads the 4-H program, and she serves on the advisory board of the Doddridge County Community Foundation (DCCF). “My organization benefits greatly from the Foundation, and I want people to know about it,” says Hutson.
Hutson’s predecessor, Everett Leggett, first advised 4-H to learn about the Community Foundation. There, he said, they would find a long-term partner for community support. “At first, I didn’t fully understand the Foundation,” Hutson admits. “After learning more, 4-H established an endowment at the Community Foundation.” This Fund now benefits from being part of a larger investment pool with greater returns. The earnings on the endowment provide support for 4-H members to attend state and national programs, among other things.
Through the Foundation’s annual Give Local MOV campaign, Hutson saw the impact of organizations working together to seek community support. Give Local MOV is a 24-hour online giving program. Organizations that benefit from an endowment at the Foundation are eligible to participate, and the Foundation raises funds to match gifts made that day. “Having people donate $50 or $100 dollars online and seeing those gifts matched - it seemed too good to be true!” said Hutson. But to her delight, 4-H achieved great success in their first year of participation. “We were so excited,” said Hutson. “We raised $11,000 in one day!”
As an advisory board member for the DCCF, Hutson now knows in detail how the Foundation can help people create a legacy for their community. “The Doddridge County Community Foundation is a great place for you to invest,” Hutson explains. “If you want to contribute to your community this is the way.”
Hutson explains that DCCF’s partnership with the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation is a huge asset. As an affiliate, the Doddridge County Community Foundation benefits from regional administrative, investment and staff resources, enabling the local advisory board to focus on building funds for its county.
“Several years ago, a group of 4-H kids applied for a Parkersburg Area Community Foundation grant to replace mattresses at the 4-H camp. They received $10,000,” said Hutson. Over the past decade, working together, the Foundation and its Doddridge County affiliate have awarded more than $390,000 to Doddridge County programs and causes.
Recent grants include $4,000 to Doddridge County Community Educational Outreach Services (CEOS) to support the development of a Heritage Art Quilt Trail. The hand-painted quilt blocks produced through the project were placed at or near historically significant sites throughout the county. The project celebrates the community’s heritage and hopes to draw tourists to the county. Thanks to a $500 recent mini-grant from the Foundation, the CEOS are now developing a brochure to publicize the quilt trail.
“What I like so much about the Foundation’s grantmaking process: It’s well organized. They help with the entire process. There is an accountability to the whole process. You can trust them to share resources in a fair and equitable way. You know that donors’ dollars are being used in the right way,” said Hutson.
Through her work with the Doddridge County Extension office, 4-H, and the Community Foundation, Hutson binds together many people and organizations working to improve Doddridge County. This is the best way that she knows of to build a positive future for residents and to provide and to protect their quality of life.
“You know I’m very fortunate. When you work in a community of 8,000 people, it’s easy to make a difference, and I encourage others to make a positive difference too.”
Volunteer firefighters must be ready for anything: car accidents, structure fires, missing persons, gas leaks. They may need to cut a tree out of a road or triage a six-vehicle accident on U.S Route 50. When someone has an emergency in a small town, in many instances, the Volunteer Fire Department is expected to take care of it. “What is routine to us is life-altering to someone else,” said Craig Mullens, President of the Harrisville Volunteer Fire Department and a second-generation firefighter. “We are expected to do our best on someone’s worst day.”
Up-to-date equipment is critical for a fire department. The Department has received many grants from the PACF and its Ritchie County Community Foundation affiliate. Over the years, these grant awards have enabled the Department to purchase a utility terrain vehicle (UTV) and trailer, communication gear, a spare Jaws of Life® device (60% of calls are related to vehicle accidents), and turnout gear (protective pants, coats, helmets, and gloves).
Over the past five years, the PACF and its regional affiliates has awarded nearly $105,000 to local emergency service groups helping to purchase protective apparel, communication devices, and life-saving equipment. The majority of these grants were made possible by the Foundation’s Unrestricted Funds, Field of Interest Funds, and Donor Advised Funds.
Mullen has high praise for the Foundation. “It’s a great organization and it’s made possible by wonderful people. They provide for the community,” Mullens said. “Where there’s a need for a nonprofit, they seem to be able to help out.”
Wood County resident Megan Hardway participated in the Foundation’s Civic Leaders Fellowship Program 2014 – 2016. “I was born and raised in Parkersburg,” said Hardway. “This Program introduced me to area organizations and businesses that I didn’t know existed in our community!”
A 2016 West Virginia University graduate, Hardway returned to the area to join the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley - her host throughout the Program – as a full-time staff member. “The PACF Civic Leaders Fellowship Program was a wonderful way to gain knowledge and experience in my field as well as to explore volunteer opportunities close to home,” said Hardway, who is now an active participant in her community as a Board Member for SW Resources and the Parkersburg Area Jaycees.
This year, twenty-four students were placed with host employers throughout the PACF service region to gain work experience in their respective fields. More than seventy-five community members contributed time to help the students learn about civic engagement, leadership, career options, and nonprofit organizations in our area.
“This is truly an amazing program. I’m honored that I was selected to participate,” said Hardway. “I encourage other area students who want to stay local and make a difference in their hometown, to apply for acceptance into the program. Not only did I find a meaningful career, but I also made lasting friendships.”
“I remember telling Ruth ‘stick with me and you’ll see the world’ when we just started dating and we did just that! We hiked the Rocky Mountains, we traveled to England, Greece, Turkey, Nepal, South Africa, and so many other places,” said Ron Tepley. “Each place we went, we embraced the culture and surroundings and found inspiration that we took back to the States.” As Ron speaks, he is surrounded by paintings, pictures, and sculptures each with a special story that he is willing to share. A passion for art that his late wife, Ruth, cultivated and cared for is seen and felt throughout their home.
Ruth and Ron were both born and raised in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. “We came from two different worlds and only met because a mutual friend set us up on a blind date,” Tepley said. Ruth and Ron were married in 1953. With Ron’s Army service and later his career with Pennzoil, they lived in multiple states across the country and made time to take many trips around the world.
The Tepleys were transferred to Parkersburg in 1982 where Ruth quickly immersed herself in the community. She became a yoga instructor and a member of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Marietta, where she served as the chairperson of the Worship Committee. She was a co-founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Parkersburg, a member of the League of Women Voters, and a docent at the Parkersburg Art Center.
Ruth was an avid gardener and hiker. She co-founded the Garden Tour of Parkersburg. Her last hike was in the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal in 1998. Then in 2000, Ruth was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer. She lost her battle and passed away in 2001, leaving behind a loving husband, four children, and a love for arts and culture.
“I wanted to do something that would honor my wife and forever support the things she loved most,” Tepley said. The Ruth M. Tepley Memorial Fund was created in 2001 with the PACF to provide perpetual funding for grants for projects and purposes related to educational study in the fields of writing, painting, drawing, sculpture, and geology throughout the Foundation’s service area.
Since its creation, the Ruth M. Tepley Memorial Fund has made grants to increase area students’ access to, and participation in, the arts. Grants to support the Parkersburg Art Center, West Virginia University at Parkersburg, and two schools in Parkersburg, (Van Devender Middle School and Blennerhasset Elementary School) are giving local students the opportunity to experience hands-on learning with themed curriculum introducing students to the importance of art history, creative problem solving, aesthetic theory, and multi-culturalism. Grants from this Fund have built a foundation of developmental skills in the visual arts and opened new doors for local students.
“The Foundation knows the community and what projects are best to support with resources from Ruth’s fund,” Tepley said. “That’s what I like. I know what Ruth loved will forever be supported in this area because of this partnership.”
“Back when I was in college, I worked in the comptroller’s office,” said Lowell Jackson. “I would see them passing out scholarships and that’s where I first got the idea about making a difference for someone. It was 35 years later when I finally partnered with the Community Foundation here in the area.”
Lowell grew up in Pennsboro. After serving in the Army from 1957 to 1959, he was later hired by Ford Motor Company. After 30 years in southeast Michigan, he retired and moved back home to West Virginia, this time to Mineral Wells. At that point, he was thinking about ways to help Ritchie County.
“We talked with the PACF about setting up a fund that would help us [Lowell and his late wife, Wilda] to make a lasting difference in the community,” said Jackson. “The Foundation staff described all that was possible with a partnership. And so that’s what we did—we set up a fund and were the first donors to the PACF’s Ritchie County Community Foundation affiliate.”
Jackson’s Donor Advised Fund enables him to recommend grants to projects that help the area and its residents. Through his fund, Jackson has helped to improve schools and volunteer fire departments, provided food for the needy, and supported community centers. As part of the PACF, the fund benefits from a consolidated investment pool, which generates income from which meaningful grants can be made.
Jackson plans to leave a gift in his estate to his Fund to continue supporting the causes he cares most about long after he is gone. According to Jackson his reasons for giving were simple: because there was a need and because he could. “The great thing about having a fund managed by the Foundation,” said Jackson, “is that it will give forever.”