Elizabeth Kubler-Ross observed that beautiful people “do not just happen” — their compassion and concern for others is often rooted in or informed by difficult personal experiences, which sometimes accompany their many blessings. This was certainly true for Craig and Cathy Sheets.
A tax accountant and partner at the Plante Moran accounting firm, Cathy was always a high achiever. “I was a straight-A student and couldn’t understand how some students struggled to grasp things,” she said. But her first child, Sara, taught her about those struggles: she was born on the autism spectrum with a low IQ. And then, not long after their second child, Rebecca, had begun elementary school, Cathy was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“I had two years where I was asking myself, ‘Why is this happening to me?’” Cathy said. But she also came to deeply appreciate her many blessings through the experience. Following her diagnosis, as she reassessed her demanding personal and professional roles, both her husband Craig and her partners at Plante Moran were supportive. She recalled: “One of my co-workers said to me, ‘You know how you love helping people? Now it’s your turn to let other people feel that love.’”
Cathy’s experience inspired the couple to seek new ways to help others in need. “We were able to manage everything — all the medical bills for me, and for Sarah, too,” she said. “We know there are so many people who need an extra hand. We asked ourselves, ‘How can we do something to help people in the community when they find themselves in that spot?’”
The couple decided to answer that question with a donor advised fund at Greater Toledo Community Foundation. Sometime later, they worked with their GTCF advisor to convert their donor advised fund to a donor advised endowed fund in which gifts are made only from interest on the fund, which enhances its longevity.
“With the endowed fund, we contribute to the fund to build capital when our tax obligations are at their highest,” Cathy explained. “It enables us to support in perpetuity the kinds of causes that are important to us. It also enables us to bring our girls into our family philanthropy. GTCF provides the oversight and vetting that will make it easy for them to continue our intentions after we are gone.”
Craig and Cathy are looking forward to the time when their endowment will reap rewards for others. “Right now, our focus is on its funding, so we are not thinking about exactly what to fund — and we see that as another benefit of working with GTCF,” she noted. “When future need arises, the money will be there.”
The couple also values the Foundation’s local focus. “Even though I didn’t grow up in Toledo and we’ve since moved away, Toledo is where we raised our family. So, it was very important to me to have that tie,” said Cathy. “Toledo gave us a lot and it has a special place in our hearts.”
When Bob and Sue Savage met at a Catholic young adult convention at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, excitement was in the air in more ways than one.
“President Kennedy had come to address the meeting, and everyone was thrilled to see him,” said Sue. Bob was certainly pleased to see the president — but he was also there for other sights. “What do young guys like to do? Drink beers and look at the girls!” he chuckled. Sue had caught his eye, and before long, marriage was on the horizon.
Bob’s energetic leadership as a student at The University of Toledo had drawn the attention of local political leaders. By the time Bob and Sue met, although he was barely out of college, he had already been elected to his first term on Toledo city council. He served for three consecutive terms from 1963 to 1969 as Toledo’s youngest councilman and leading vote-getter. But in 1969, he declined to run again. Both his family and business were growing, along with Bob’s role in the community as a business leader — including a term of service on the board of the brand-new Toledo Community Foundation when it was launched in 1973.
As the Savage’s six young children began their education, Sue continued the Savage family’s public service. Sue took on a variety of volunteer roles in their schools and at other institutions as well, including St. Anthony Villa, and most recently, the Christ Child Society and as chair of the board of the Toledo Lucas County Public Library.
It was natural, then, that Bob and Sue chose a donor directed pooled fund with Greater Toledo Community Foundation to manage their regular contributions to the many schools and charitable organizations they supported over the years. “Almost all our giving is local,” noted Sue. “We chose a donor directed fund so we could specify where all the gifts from our fund would go, whether annual donations or gifts for special projects, such as the creativity lab at the downtown library branch.”
Bob has also created two GTCF funds to facilitate fundraising and support for specific causes. The Science Society Fund helps Toledo’s Imagination Station refresh its permanent exhibits, and the Distinguished Clown Corps Fund helps defray the cost of Toledo’s annual holiday parade. Both are funded by membership fees, and in the case of the Clown Corps fund, the yearly dues reserve the member a spot in the holiday parade’s clown brigade.
Bob added, “The Community Foundation gives people a convenient way to manage charitable giving, and a good place to put their money to do good work in the community. That’s what sold us on being involved at the very beginning, and it hasn’t changed — we think it’s great.”
As a teacher, Mary J. Baird would often take inspiration from a poster in her classroom emblazoned with these words. With the legacy scholarship fund she established in 2021, Mary will keep that flame burning brightly for former students of Sylvania’s Timberstone Junior High School.
“I’m excited about the sparkle in kids’ eyes,” she said, reflecting on her teaching experiences. “I taught 7th-grade English for 15 years, and then I was asked to develop a new gifted education program.” At first, Mary split her time between English and gifted ed at McCord Junior High — but when the new Timberstone Junior High was built, she took on gifted ed full time. “Everything began with the idea of creativity,” she said. “It gave the kids an open door — and when they walked through it, they flew from there.”
Mary also developed closer relationships with her Timberstone students than she was previously able to do. “I had the same kids for three years — 6th through 8th grade — so I knew them and their families.” She also knew of their unspoken hopes for their future. “There are so many kids that have quiet, private dreams of what they want to do in their lives — but if they don’t have the finances to take that leap, they can’t.”
After her retirement, Mary pondered for some time what she could do with her estate that would have meaning. “I was the last remaining member of my family,” she explained, “and in the back of my mind, I had those sparkling eyes. There are a lot of sparkling eyes out there who need to fly — what better purpose than to give them a springboard for college?”
With the help of her attorney, who suggested Mary work with Greater Toledo Community Foundation, she established a legacy scholarship fund, designated for former Timberstone students who will attend a four-year college or university. A committee of Timberstone teachers appointed by the school principal will determine each year’s awardees. “I called Jesse Stock at GTCF and he took the reins. It was easy after that,” she noted.
“My parents were so generous with us as kids and education was #1,” Mary said of her choice to fund the futures of others. “My father created a trust for us. Because so much love was funneled my way, I feel it is my responsibility to continue what they did.”
Many individuals who have established funds with Greater Toledo Community Foundation have come to know Bridget Brell Holt as a Foundation staff member and advocate for managing family philanthropy through GTCF. So, it was only natural when her mother, Joanne Seidel Brell, was about to lose her life to cancer that her father, Tom Brell, decided to establish a designated fund in his wife’s honor.
“When she became my wife, I was very lucky,” recalled Tom, reflecting on his partner of more than 50 years. “She was an amazingly talented woman, and she never sat still. But she also got on well with people and almost never said an unkind word about anyone. And she raised three wonderful daughters, too.”
As the wife of a third-generation resident of Maumee, two causes of particular importance to Joanne were the Maumee Valley Historical Society and St. Joseph’s School. She supported both with gifts and volunteer time — so the family chose a designated fund specifically to help finance these organizations.
“Joanne knew about the fund before she passed, including the benefitting organizations,” said Tom. “She was a big supporter of both the school and the historical society, so her fund continues that support now that she’s passed.”
Said Bridget’s sister, Gretchen, “One thing we love about the fund is that we can honor her memory with contributions for family birthdays and holidays.” She noted that when their sister Becky passed in 2014, all the donations in her memory were contributed to the fund.
“Since Mom died in 2005, her fund has grown tremendously,” observed Bridget, “and it will go on in perpetuity. We like that it makes giving very simple, and if either the school or historical society cease to exist, the Foundation will continue to honor her memory by supporting similar organizations.”
“Mom was from a very comfortable family and contributing to society was very important,” said Gretchen. “Giving back to the community was just a way of life — they served as well as gave. With this fund, we all can continue that tradition.”
Like so many who relocate from a big city to Toledo, Meg and Dick Ressner discovered it was a place where they could have a special kind of impact.
“Dick and I met in Chicago while with Owens-Corning (OC), and moved here in 1989,” said Meg. “We fell hard for Toledo because we realized we could make a real difference here.”
The couple’s dedication to their new community began with volunteering and continues today from their residences in Toledo and Florida. “Early on, I served on the board of the Toledo Arts Commission, David’s House, and the OC Foundation — back then, you had to be physically present for meetings. Now, we can stay involved no matter where we are,” she noted.
Thanks to Meg’s prior involvement with the OC Foundation, the Ressners are also very strategic about their giving — so the couple’s philanthropic commitment to Toledo was a deciding factor in establishing a fund with GTCF. “When our financial advisor suggested we create a donor advised fund, we could have done that with any wealth management firm, and we vetted all those options,” she noted. “But GTCF is a leader in the community that is making a difference for Toledo — so if we were going to do this, we wanted to do it with them.”
Maintaining a philanthropic focus is another priority for the Ressners. “I had my causes, he had his — but with our fund, we said no, we’re going to make an impact with the things we care about as a family. Deciding that was the hard part. After you decide that, the Foundation makes it easy,” she noted. “I use their online system— we do all our stuff online and it’s simple. I like that — I do not like it when it’s complicated!” she laughed.
While also reserving a portion of their resources to support friends’ causes, the Ressners have dedicated their volunteer work and giving to women’s empowerment, autism, the Evans Scholar program for young golf caddies, and the new collaboration between First Tee of Lake Erie and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Toledo, serving youth in the Rogers-McTigue learning community. But when COVID-19 brought a halt to community activities, Meg found a new way to support Toledo with the creation of another fund at GTCF.
“During Covid, my friend Annie and I were staying connected with Zoom coffee chats,” she explained. “We were talking about how lucky we both were — and Annie said ‘We’ve got to do something. What if we raised money to pay the restaurants to make food to serve the hospitals and first responders … they can be our ‘plus one’ for a meal.”
After their Zoom call, Meg promptly emailed several restauranteurs about the idea — and within a week of creating the Toledo Plus One Fund at GTCF, more than $20,000 in donations had come into the Fund and delivery of hot, restaurant-grade meals for hospitals and first responders began. Toledo Plus One raised more than $70,000, funding more than 4,100 meals.
Meg cites three reasons for opening a family fund at GTCF. “First, it was a witness to the difference that GTCF makes in Toledo – it fits our ‘supporting Toledo’ strategy. They’ve also been incredibly helpful — we couldn’t have done Toledo Plus One if we didn’t have the Foundation to make it work. We trust them to manage our funds wisely. And, we wanted the flexibility tax-wise to release the money when we need to, in a way that is consistent with our strategy. Our GTCF fund makes all of that possible.”
When Stephanie White encouraged her father, Dave, to establish what became the Hugh David & Dana White Family Fund with Greater Toledo Community Foundation, she had no idea she would be one of the advisors to that fund so soon after it was established.
Both Stephanie and her dad begun their own funds in 2019. “Our family did quite a bit of charitable giving, both privately and through the car dealership, but didn’t publicize it,” said Stephanie. “My parents supported all kinds of causes. They were both outdoor people who oved animals, so that was a special focus of their giving, but they also supported many other things, like education, the arts and health care.”
Her parents’ generosity was something they instilled in the younger generations in their family, too. “Some time ago, Dad started giving our family members gifts to give to charity,” said Stephanie. “We each received an amount that we had to donate — and we had to give away all of it.”
After a few years, Stephanie decided to manage her charitable gifts with a fund at GTCF. “Our family had several good friends who were involved with the Foundation since day one,” she said. “I was also in Sylvania Rotary with Mike George, GTCF’s VP of Philanthropic Services & Advancement at the time, so I was comfortable having the discussion.”
After multiple conversations, Dave, Sr. decided to follow Stephanie in establishing a fund at GTCF. Dave, Sr. elected to establish a donor advised fund, while Stephanie chose a donor directed pooled fund. “We had considered establishing our own foundation,” noted Stephanie, “but after talking to GTCF, we saw we could do the same type of work without having to do the work of managing the funds.”
But just a few months later, Dave, Sr. had an unexpected health crisis. “Dad had COVID-19 in July of last year and came through it like a champ,” said Stephanie. “Then shortly after that, while I was out in Wyoming for business, I got a call from him saying ‘I just got diagnosed with esophageal cancer.’”
Dave, Sr., Stephanie and her brother Dave, Jr., headed at once to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for Dave’s treatment. After a number of weeks undergoing out-of-town treatment, Dave decided to continue his treatment back in Toledo where he could enjoy the end of duck-hunting season and time with his brothers and family.
Sadly, Dave, Sr. lost his battle with cancer in January of this year. “My dad would have been 84 on February 1 this year, and you would never have known it. He was an active sportsman and only four weeks before he passed away, he was duck hunting. My mom, Dana, had traveled to Kenya less than a year before she passed from cancer. That’s one reason why we’ve been avid supporters of the American Cancer Society.”
Now Stephanie and her brother, Dave, are the successor advisors to their parents’ fund. “Our plan is to continue doing what we’ve always been doing. Our entire family has had a history of generosity. I think Mom and Dad would trust us to make sure it was ‘done right’ and honor the family traditions.”
Mark Zyndorf will tell you that when he married his wife Gretchen after nearly a lifetime of bachelorhood, he found true love with one of the most exceptional women he’d ever known.
“Her stepdaughter would describe her as a cross between Martha Stewart and Mother Teresa,” he said. “And it’s true. She was a very creative person, and loved to entertain. And everything was about others – never about her.”
Gretchen’s selfless nature was inspired by a keen awareness of her blessings and a deep sensitivity to others who were less fortunate. She spent a lonely childhood on her family’s farm, and had a difficult but brief marriage to her high-school sweetheart. Gretchen then remarried happily to a successful physician but was widowed after just twelve years. She married again, this time to Mark’s best friend, Sheldon, whom she also lost to lengthy illness.
Sharing a common grief for their lost loved one, Mark and Gretchen soon were seeing each other with some frequency. “Gretchen wondered if perhaps it was too early to consider a new relationship,” said Mark, “so she consulted our rabbi. ‘Life is for the living,’ was his advice – so she took it.” Within two years, the couple wed.
As Mark’s wife, Gretchen continued her lifetime habit of helping others in ways big and small. “She enjoyed doing the behind-the-scenes work,” said Mark. “She cooked a full meal every month for a homeless shelter. She served on the board of the Sight Center – but she also read to the blind. She donated to the Humane Society‚ but she’d also clean cat boxes and cages as a volunteer.”
Gretchen was well-off in her own right before she married Mark, a successful commercial real-estate developer, so she managed her own funds. “She didn’t buy expensive clothes or a lot of stuff for herself,” said Mark. “But she couldn’t figure out where all her money was going. I said ‘Give me your checkbook and I’ll tell you.’ Then I discovered nearly all of her personal expenditures were gifts to charity.”
Photo: Gretchen and Mark Zyndorf enjoyed travelling together. Here,
they are savoring a gondola ride through the canals of Venice.
With that, they decided to establish a donor advised fund for Gretchen at GTCF. And, when they established a number of legacy funds (planned gifts) for Gretchen, they were making provisions for an eventuality in the distant future. But then, an unexpected illness changed everything.
“She didn’t drink, and took excellent care of her health,” said Mark. “But despite all that, she contracted a rare form of liver cancer,” he explained. Thanks to excellent medical treatment, Gretchen and Mark were able to enjoy almost three additional years together before she lost her battle with the disease.
Speaking of her generous spirit, Mark said, “Gretchen wanted to be sure that when she passed, her legacy would include support for the causes she held dear – the arts, animals, and people in need. Caring for the less fortunate was tremendously important to her. If ever there was an angel, she was one.”
If Warren Buffett had a “biggest fan,” it just might be Harold Leupp.
“My dad idolizes Warren Buffett,” said his daughter, Melissa. And Harold agrees. “I’m a huge admirer of what he’s accomplished, and the kind of person he is,” Harold stated.
In fact, the two men have many things in common – midwestern roots, a hard-working, entrepreneurial spirit that took hold in their youth, a commitment to philanthropy – and as his civil engineering career advanced, Harold applied Buffett’s principles to become a successful investor, too. “When each of the kids graduated from college, we gave them stock in Cedar Point” he said. “I wanted to start them out investing right away.”
For both Harold and his wife Carol, philanthropy also started early in life. “When we were kids and attended the Delta Presbyterian Church, we’d put pennies in the collection box as kids,” said Harold. “Sharing with others is a basic Christian concept.”
Harold also admires Warren Buffett’s emphasis on his children’s financial independence, and the fact that the Buffett children are all active philanthropists. So when Harold and Carol were considering the family’s holiday gifts this year, they decided to encourage their own children’s philanthropy by giving each of them their own GTCF donor advised fund.
Photo: The Leupp family, Christmas 2019. Pictured in back (left to right): Chris Corbett, Michael Corbett, Meghan Corbett, Jordan Leupp, Erin Leupp and Chris Leupp. In front: Sarah Corbett, Blythe Leupp, Melissa Leupp, Carol Leupp, Harold Leupp and Patti Leupp.
Said Carol, “We’ve had a donor advised fund at the Foundation for a while,” noting that they use their fund to support arts and education groups, people in need, the Village of Delta and their local church. Harold added, “I could be a salesman for the Foundation. We have 24 organizations that we give to. And the Foundation does such a wonderful job — it takes all the work right out of it. We thought it would be perfect for the kids.”
“I was very pleased,” said Melissa about her father’s gift, noting that it was very fitting given his admiration for Buffett. “When we came home for the holidays, Dad brought each of us — me, my sister Sarah and my brother, Christopher — into his office and gave us a briefing on how he had established funds for each of us for our charitable giving. He explained how he and Mom had a fund of their own and how they used it.”
Melissa, a school occupational therapist in Arlington, Virginia, particularly appreciated the ability to be more strategic about her giving. “In the past,” she said, “I’ve had limited ability to contribute to organizations that are important to me. Because I’m so involved with education in my community and a mother, too, I’m looking to support causes that I don’t have time to devote myself to.”
Not surprisingly, Melissa is interested in supporting education with her fund, an interest shared by her mother, who worked for a few years as a schoolteacher. “I also want to use my fund to support social causes and the environment,” she said. “My parents’ gift will allow my giving to have more intention and more impact.”
The Leupp Family found Donor Advised Funds at the Foundation to be the perfect way to continue their family’s long interest in local giving, while giving them the flexibility to focus on causes that match their varied and changing interests. Learn how to establish your own Donor Advised Fund.Ways To Give
Jim and Pam Fletcher both had the same goal in mind when it came to estate planning — to assure that their assets would provide ongoing benefits to the causes and organizations that they care about and support. And the Toledo Community Foundation’s Legacy Fund provided a perfect means to achieve that goal.
Pam and Jim met while attending Oberlin College. They married and moved to Boston, where the two of them earned master’s degrees and Pam taught high school in nearby Quincy. After graduate school, they moved to Long Island, where Jim worked for Grumman Aerospace and Pam continued to teach. When Jim was hired by Owens-Corning, they relocated here and Toledo became their home.
“After teaching another three years at Lake Local High School, I was ready for a career change,” said Pam, “so I earned my J.D. at The University of Toledo College of Law and became a staff attorney in the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals. Then I took a position as in-house counsel at Libbey-Owens-Ford Company. I worked in corporate securities and other legal areas for the rest of my career eventually retiring from Dana Corporation.”
Strategic and financial planning was a continuing thread for Jim’s career, as he moved from Owens-Corning to Arthur Young and then on to independent consulting and running his own business.
With no children or close relatives who might personally benefit from their estate, it’s not surprising that the Fletchers looked to TCF as a resource to accomplish their estate planning goals. “I knew of the Foundation through my friendship with the former executive director, Pam Howell-Beach.
We worked together for a number of years as members of the Toledo chapter of Zonta, an international executive and professional women’s service organization,” Pam recalls.
The Fletchers had given some thought about how to structure their fund. “We didn’t think single one-time bequests would be as useful to the organizations we support as a continuing stream of revenue,” said Pam. Jim agreed, noting, “With our Fund, every year when distributions are made, we will be remembered as benefactors by those organizations we care about.”
“With our Fund, every year when distributions are made, we will be remembered as benefactors by those organizations we care about.” - Jim Fletcher
They both appreciated how convenient it was to establish their fund. “The amount of our estate wouldn’t justify the cost and effort of setting up an endowment fund on our own — but with a Toledo Community Foundation fund, the work was done for us. The whole process was easy. We didn’t have to pay a fee to make it happen and there was no requirement to commit a specific dollar amount,” said Jim. “We didn’t want to lose control of our assets during our lifetimes — and with our Legacy Fund, we won’t. All we had to do was work with TCF staff to set up the fund. One meeting and some paperwork, and it was done.”
The Fletchers’ Legacy Fund will ensure that local and national causes dear to their hearts will benefit from their generosity for many years to come. As Jim observed, “Now, when I listen to public radio and hear announcements crediting the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for their support, I think ‘and we’ve got the Pam and Jim Fletcher Fund at the Toledo Community Foundation.’”
When Judy McCracken moved to Toledo with her husband, Steve, and four young children, she had no idea how her life was about to change.
“Steve had been with DuPont for 30 years, and we’d moved a lot,” she recalled, noting that relocation had been a way of life for them. “We were considering moves to Texas and Kansas, but ended up in Toledo after Steve accepted the CEO position with Owens-Illinois. My mother’s uncle lived in Ottawa Hills, and I knew it was a great place to raise a family. So when we came here, that’s where we decided to build our dream home together.”
But just three short years later, a severe illness took Steve’s life. To provide a lasting legacy for Steve, Judy established a donor advised fund at the Foundation in his name for memorial contributions. “Frank Jacobs, a TCF board member, was our estate attorney. He introduced me to TCF and how easy it is to manage charitable giving through the Foundation. Once the fund was established, it just made sense to continue it.”
As she put down roots in Toledo and raised her young family, Judy recognized she had advantages that many other women and children in her situation did not. “I’ve been able as a single mother to provide for my family and raise them in a safe environment, and I know not everyone is so fortunate,” she said, “so women, family, education and the environment are all causes I am passionate about.”
"Frank Jacobs, a TCF board member, was our estate attorney. He introduced me to TCF and how easy it is to manage charitable giving through the Foundation. Once the fund was established, it just made sense to continue it."- JUDY MCCRACKEN
Judy also supports the arts because of the value it has for children. “You HAVE to have the arts in your community. When we first came to Toledo, I was impressed at how many opportunities in the arts there are in Toledo for children from all walks of life – and high-quality opportunities, too. My children have benefitted from being introduced to these forms of expression, and I want others to benefit as well.”
Judy also values the local impact her TCF fund provides. “It is important to know that when we’re giving, the money stays in the community,” she said, recalling the assistance TCF provides in vetting and presenting local causes worth supporting. “You need to give back where you live – you want to see your community thriving.”