The general purpose of The Van Wert County Foundation is set forth in its Charter, as follows:
“Said corporation is formed for the purpose of soliciting and receiving charitable contributions, by bequest, devise, gift, or otherwise from individuals, corporations, associations, firms, and others; for the purpose of holding and investing such contributions in such manner as the donor may direct, and in the event no direction is given by the donor, then in accordance with the laws of the State of Ohio governing the investment of institutional funds held by an organization that is organized and operated exclusively for educational, religious, or charitable purposes, excepting, however, testamentary trusts, the assets of which shall be invested in such manner as provided for by the laws of the State of Ohio governing investments by trustees; for the purpose of applying the principal and income thereof in such manner as the corporation shall deem best among philanthropies and charities which may come to its attention and which may receive its approval; and for such other purposes as are necessary and incident to the mental, moral, intellectual, and physical welfare and advancement of the citizens of Van Wert County, Ohio, and of such other geographical areas as may be directed by donor, including but not limited to stimulating, promoting, and support interest in, and fostering community appreciation of, the performing arts by sponsoring and providing facilities for the public performance of concerts, dance, theater, and other similar programs; and to do all things necessary or incident to be done in order to carry the foregoing charitable purposes into effect.”
To complement the Charter, the By-laws of The Foundation set forth as illustrative purposes any and all charitable, educational, cultural, and other needs that may be applicable to any community and flexibility is provided for changes as growth of civilization may indicate.
The membership consists of fifteen persons named in the Charter, or their successors. The term of one member expires each year and the vacancy is filled by the remaining members of The Foundation. The Constitution and By-Laws expressly provide that no member shall receive compensation for his services, except that an Executive Secretary may be a member of The Foundation and may be recompensed for his services.
The Foundation is administered by all members serving as Trustees. The Foundation has a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. No officer may succeed himself for more than two years. The Foundation operates through a committee procedure in which the members of The Foundation serve on various committees and make recommendations to The Foundation, but all actions are controlled by the entire Board of Trustees.
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.