History of The Van Wert County Foundation

There was much to talk about the summer of 1925, in Van Wert. The new buildings of the Marsh Foundation School were soon to be dedicated. The school had been endowed by the late George H. Marsh, who died in 1920. The endowment caused considerable conversation when Mr. Marsh’s will was probated and more recently (1924 and 1925) several other well-to-do prominent Van Wert citizens had died, leaving estates but no relatives in the area. As a result, their assets were distributed to kin scattered over the United States.

This was the subject of conversation one 1925 summer day when two local bankers, Frank Leslie and D. LaDoyt Brumback met. Mr. Leslie was cashier of the Peoples Savings Bank and Mr. Brumback was president of Van Wert National Bank. They felt it would have been better if proceeds of these estates in some way could have been used to benefit people in Van Wert County, where the late citizens had lived and made their money. One of them mentioned he had heard of a foundation in Cleveland that might be a practical answer to just what they were discussing. It was suggested that a young attorney who had recently moved to town be hired to investigate this foundation.

The then-young attorney, Kerns Wright, traveled to Cleveland and upon his return gave the bankers details of the Cleveland Foundation, which had been established in 1913.

There were other similar foundations, such as Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford and others, all on a larger scale. The concept was to provide means for establishing a living bequest or trust so the income could be used for constructive programs benefiting mankind.

Mr. Leslie and Mr. Brumback were impressed with Wright’s report and called a meeting of several influential men in the community. They too were impressed and asked Wright to set up such a foundation in Van Wert County. They felt it was such a worthwhile project they collected enough money to organize it, thus The Van Wert County Foundation was incorporated in September of 1925.

Although The Foundation came into existence in 1925, the first bequest was not received until 1934, when the Clara Anderson Memorial Fund was established.