Everyone leaves a legacy of some kind; all of us undoubtedly hope that what we leave behind is of value to those who remain. Our community is truly blessed by gifts from those who have gone before as well as many who are still among us.
Darke County Center for the Arts relies upon funds received from locally endowed foundations and trusts to achieve its mission. Some of the trusts are managed by trustees who annually grant funds to applicants they find worthy of support. DCCA is extremely fortunate to benefit from grants provided by the Harry D. and Esther Stephens Memorial, the Ketrow Foundation, and the Lydia E. Schaurer Memorial Trust Fund that provide vital operating support to the organization. Some Darke Countians still fondly remember the people who endowed the funds, but as time passes that personal connection is superseded by knowledge of the exponentially expanding good accomplished in their names. Although their physical presence here is a fading memory, these frugal, good, ordinary people continue to positively impact lives in the community.
And that’s only the beginning of the list of those from our community’s past whose good works are vitally at work in the present transforming the future. The Coppock-Hole Trust is one of the legacies of the family who founded legendary local corporation, American Aggregates. Among their many gifts to our community, the Coppock-Hole Trust annually sponsors a performance at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, enhancing local lives through the arts.
The Jean Louise Thieme Fund of the Hope Foundation and the Greyson James Steyer Fund benefit DCCA’s Family Theatre Series, helping DCCA bring high quality theatrical productions to Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall at a low cost to ticket-buyers. Jean Louise Thieme was committed to promoting the arts, and is well-known and well-loved for her many invaluable contributions to our community. She served as DCCA’s first Executive Director and was the driving force that brought the Family Theatre Series into being. The family of Greyson James Steyer wanted the memory of his short life to bring joy to others, and believe that the wonder of theatre appropriately represents the hopes and dreams all families hold for their offspring.
Although Ami McClurkin’s personal ambitions were thwarted by injuries received in a tragic 1985 automobile accident, a strong legacy in her name is being built through a fund established by her family to honor the paraplegic resident of the Brethren’s Home Retirement Community. Their annual sponsorship of a DCCA Artists Series concert recognizes Ami’s love of music and shares with the entire community the joy and comfort Ami derives from those sweet sounds.
Darke County Endowment for the Arts is another entity from which our community profits; the Endowment was established to receive charitable gifts that are invested to provide funds benefiting the arts within Darke County. In addition to annually granting assistance to a broad range of local arts projects, DCEA helps fund the Anna Bier Gallery’s Art Start which underwrites the cost of arts supplies for Darke County schools and DCCA’s summertime Missoula Children’s Theatre residency. The Endowment also holds a fund dedicated to the ongoing preservation and upkeep of historic, beautiful St. Clair Memorial Hall, contributing the major funding resulting in the recent restoration of the Hall’s priceless stained glass windows.
Darke County Endowment for the Arts differs from the other charitable funds cited here in that gifts and bequests from the general public are expected and necessary to fulfill the Endowment’s goals. Plans are underway for continuing needed upgrades and improvements to Memorial Hall so that the community treasure will continue serving citizens well into the future; some organizations have already contributed to this effort. Local residents who hope to leave their own legacy enriching the future of our community can donate to DCEA’s Memorial Hall Fund, helping preserve the treasured legacy of Henry and Ella St. Clair. Donations can be sent to Darke County Endowment for the Arts, P.O. Box 155, Greenville, OH, 45331.
Marilyn Delk is a Director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.