News & Event
Since 1986, The Community Foundation of Frederick County has been the leading source for post-secondary scholarship funding in Frederick County. Our scholarships are funded by generous donors who believe in the value of education. Some of our donors want to support students aspiring to careers like theirs, which is exactly what De Willard, Rodman Myers, Frank Gladhill, and Mehrle Ramsburg had in mind when they approached the Community Foundation 12 years ago to establish The Maryland Master Farmers Scholarship Fund.
The four men are well-known in Frederick County as successful farmers and businessmen who have given back to the community in countless ways. They have each been inducted as Maryland Master Farmers, a designation awarded to farmers who are excellent land stewards and are proven leaders in their community. The Master Farmers program promotes and advances the agriculture industry and provides scholarships to students to help them pursue their educational goals.
When Mr. Willard received the Mid-Atlantic Master Farmer Award in 2002, he wanted to help interested students become better farmers through education and to have the freedom to attend any college or university of their choice. His vision was shared by Mr. Myers, Mr. Gladhill, and Mr. Ramsburg when they all founded The Maryland Master Farmers Scholarship Fund with the Community Foundation in 2007. The fund’s purpose is to provide scholarships to students who are pursuing a post-secondary education in agriculture or a related field.
To date, almost 40 students have received nearly $55,000 in scholarships. Students who have benefitted from the scholarship have studied at colleges and universities across the country such as Virginia Tech and Oklahoma State University. These students have pursued a variety of careers such as farm technicians, herdsman, and educators who keep up with the latest technology advancements in agriculture and pass those on to the next generation of farmers.
The legacies of Mr. Ramsburg (deceased), Mr. Gladhill (deceased), Mr. Myers, and Mr. Willard are carried on through the fund that will benefit generations of agricultural students to come.
FREDERICK, MD – October 8, 2019: The Frederick County Agri-Business Association (FCAB), in a final act before its official closing, contributed $5,000 to The Maryland Master Farmers Scholarship Fund, one of more than 720 component funds of The Community Foundation of Frederick County.
FCAB, established in 1993, was a Frederick-based group of businesses that supported scholarships for local students furthering their education in agriculture-related fields which provided more than $145,000 in scholarships to 150 students. In deciding to disband, FCAB looked for an appropriate source to move their remaining scholarship money so their mission of agriculture education could continue and chose The Community Foundation’s Maryland Master Farmers Scholarship Fund.
Created in 2007 by master farmers De Willard, Rodman Myers, Frank and Bess Gladhill, and Mehrle Ramsburg, The Maryland Master Farmers Scholarship Fund supports Frederick County students continuing their education in the fields of agriculture and/or horticulture. To date, more than 36 students have received nearly $55,000 in scholarships.
FREDERICK, MD – January 31, 2020: The Worman’s Mill Garden Club (WMGC) made a $7,000 contribution to The Maryland Master Farmers Scholarship Fund, one of more than 720 component funds of The Community Foundation of Frederick County.
The Worman’s Mill Garden Club provides educational programs about agriculture and horticulture to the Worman’s Mill community. Its mission includes supporting Frederick County students continuing their education in the fields of agriculture and/or horticulture. The partnership between WMGC and the fund helps provide scholarships to students pursuing their educational goals.
If ever there was a testimony to the benefits of hard work, it’s local businessman and Community Foundation of Frederick County supporter De Willard. Fit and energetic at 87, De admits to working long hours for most of his life, a habit that has obviously agreed with him.
Recognized widely for innovations in agribusiness as well as his philanthropic outreach, De first flexed his entrepreneurial muscle in 1948 at barely 16 years old. With $2,300 he had saved up working part-time for 25 cents per hour at a grocery store in his native Poolesville, he purchased a combine harvester. Before long, he had replanted the family farm which had lain fallow for many years. When he wasn’t busy at his own 300 acres, he was harvesting wheat, corn, and barley for neighboring farmers—saving them time and labor and building the funds he would need to capitalize on his next opportunity.
His keen eye for an opportunity is just one of the many factors responsible for De Willard’s extraordinary business success. His family was hard-working and entrepreneurial, and they impressed upon young De the importance of solid relationships in both personal and professional life. Born during the Great Depression, he learned to be both fiscally conservative and extremely generous. An outside-the-box-thinker, De’s lifelong ability to identify problems and address them through creative solutions has helped him build Willard Agri-Services into one of the most successful companies of its kind in a six-state region.
Because De’s business success was built on forward-thinking and innovation, it should come as no surprise that he was one of the first to embrace the concept behind The Community Foundation of Frederick County shortly after its founding in 1986.
“I knew all of the founders of the Community Foundation,” he said. “Don Linton. Charlie Main. Jerry Offutt. In fact, I grew up near Poolesville in upper Montgomery County with Jerry Offutt. Our great grandfathers were best friends, so the families have been connected from way back. All three men were friends whom I knew well and trusted.”
De says he remembers being further impressed by the newly-formed organization’s mission and objectives after reading about them in the Frederick News-Post. In 1989, he directed his first gift to the Community Foundation to be used to create The De Willard Family Fund, an unrestricted endowment. For the past 30 years, the annual proceeds from this unrestricted fund have been used by the Board of Trustees and the grants committee to address the constantly changing, most pressing needs of the community.
Like De Willard’s initial gift, the soon-to-be launched Forever Frederick County fund will also be an unrestricted endowment. Like the Community Foundation’s leadership, De believes that building this flexible fund to tackle Frederick County’s current and emerging greatest needs is a vital and necessary step to preserving and improving the quality of life in our community.
“Grants from our Forever Frederick County campaign will be based on the areas of greatest community need as determined by the Human Needs Assessment report, and that have been selected by our Board of Trustees as areas of focus,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Elizabeth Day. “Donors who contribute to this unrestricted endowment will be trusting the Community Foundation to invest their charitable gifts and grant them wisely, to act with integrity, and to communicate honestly and with transparency.”
Since his initial gift in 1989, De has also created The De Willard Charitable Gift Fund. Still a strong advocate for the agricultural professions, he—along with Rodman Myers, Mehrle Ramsburg, Jr., and Franklin Gladhill-- created The Maryland Master Farmers Scholarship Fund in 2009. These scholarships target students pursuing post-secondary education in agriculture or a related field, or farmers interested in pursuing course work to enhance their knowledge of farm business.
According to De, the scholarship’s goal is to help interested students become better farmers through education. He remains an active participant on The Maryland Master Farmers Scholarship Fund selection committee, and has helped to direct several grants from the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation into that fund.
“I think that everything The Community Foundation of Frederick County does is very helpful-- critical really,” said De. “It’s a fact that people struggle, and sometimes they need help from the organizations that the Community Foundation provides funding for through the proceeds from the charitable gifts that they invest. Its staff and volunteers carry out the organization’s objectives with kindness, fairness and integrity, which I admire and appreciate.”
“At our company, ‘doing the right thing’ is at the top of our list of values,” he says. “I feel confident supporting an organization like the Community Foundation because they share those values.”
Spring is here, and no one knows that better than Frederick County farmers. There’s much to do to prepare for crop planting, orchard pruning, spring births of animals, equipment repairs, and much more. While it may not seem so, Frederick County is still 55 percent agricultural with 1,300 farms and more than 181,500 acres of farmland.
Even with this amount of farmland, many children who live here aren’t exposed to farming and agriculture. They don’t know where their food originates, or how fruit and vegetables are grown. They aren’t aware of the economic value that agriculture provides within the county or the environmental issues that agricultural professionals face.
Enter Frank and Bess Gladhill. Owners of a farm located in Monrovia since 1950, they are well-known in Frederick County agricultural circles not only as successful farmers but as people who have given back to the community in countless ways. They wanted children to learn about agriculture and farming, so in 1998, they established The Franklin and Bess Gladhill Fund for Agriculture Education specifically to provide agriculture-related opportunities to students attending Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS). The grants are part of an FCPS program called “Gifts for Education,” and what a gift this has been. More than $92,000 has helped bring a myriad of programs and benefits to students at all age levels.
Grants from the fund have allowed hundreds of children and youth to learn and experience what agriculture means. Pre-K students have enjoyed field trips to working farms, and through the “Growing Green with Worms” program, learned about composting. Elementary students from nearly every school in the county have visited a tree farm to learn about the interdependence of agriculture and economics, had access to the Agriculture in the Classroom Mobile Lab, the Mobile Agriscience Lab, and the Agricultural Products Lab. Other programs have included basic horse husbandry, creating a butterfly garden by researching the appropriate soil, plants and butterflies, hydroponics, and horticulture and landscape training. Several high schools benefitted from grants supporting their Future Farmer of America Clubs, helping them travel to national conventions and competitions.
Through their fund, Frank (now deceased) and Bess have truly given a gift of education. They have made a big difference in the lives of children and youth and promoted agriculture that is still so much a critical and integral part of our lives in Frederick County. Many children are going to remember their visit to a farm throughout their entire life. Some might even be inspired to have a career in or related to agriculture. We thank them for their vision and generosity.
After Charles Worthington “Chipper” Hoff IV became president of Farmers and Mechanics Bank in 1977, he quickly became involved in some of the community’s largest and most active organizations. Owing in part to his enthusiasm for and involvement in his adopted hometown of Frederick, Chipper was also one of the first people to whom Don Linton and the late Charlie Main reached out to in 1986 when they decided to try to form a community foundation here in Frederick County.
The consultant who addressed the group said it would take a minimum of $1 million to start a community foundation, recalls Chipper, thinking that would be enough to deter the group. Undaunted, they created the entity and began to fundraise. By the following year, they had amassed more than $500,000 in gifts and pledges; less than a year later, the group reached its goal of $1 million.
For the next 30 years, Chipper and his wife Peggy have been active volunteers and donors at the Community Foundation. In 2006, they created The Charles W. Hoff, III and Margaret O. Hoff Family Fund. The fund was created as a “donor-advised” fund, meaning that Chipper and Peggy recommend to the board of trustees how the annual distribution is used for grantmaking.
However, in their fund agreement, Chipper and Peggy included language that allows the Community Foundation unrestricted access to its annual distribution after their lifetimes. This step ensures that proceeds from the fund will be available to address Frederick County’s most pressing future needs—especially those of which we are currently unaware.
Based on this concept of unrestricted giving, the Community Foundation launched a campaign in 2019 called Forever Frederick County. Like Chipper and Peggy Hoff, donors to this campaign have given the Community Foundation’s board of trustees the ability to direct the distributions from their funds toward Frederick County’s areas of greatest need.
“Frederick County was a great place to raise our family,” says Chipper. “Peggy and I are pleased to know that the fund we created at the Community Foundation will help strengthen and enhance the quality of life there, now and for years to come.”
Sometimes legacies are a surprise. The notice from The Office of the Register of Wills stating that the Community Foundation was named as an interested party in the estate of Calvin Murray was routine. As the story unfolded, we learned that Mr. Murray wished to establish a charitable fund supporting two nonprofits: The Howard Chapel Ridgeville United Methodist Church (UMC), and Frederick Memorial Hospital. The surprise? Mr. Murray wasn’t known to us, nor had he let us know in advance that he wished to create funds benefitting his church and the hospital. Even more surprising was the estimated size of the estate – more than $20 million.
We’re always sorry to hear of someone’s death, of course, and establishing a charitable fund with proceeds from the estate is not unusual. A well -respected resident of Mount Airy, Maryland, Mr. Murray was described as a quiet individual who was always in touch with local news. He lived and worked on the family farm his entire life. As a youth, he received numerous awards from 4-H for raising and showing farm animals. His prize cattle awards provided the opportunity to serve as a Maryland delegate to the National 4-H Conference in 1946. He also received top honors for his animal projects from Future Farmers of America. After graduating from high school, he continued working on his family’s farm, and other land acquired nearby.
Mr. Murray and his parents were life-long members of The Howard Chapel Ridgeville UMC, and he participated in the youth group and served the church in his younger years through various volunteer roles. Mr. Murray’s extended family said the bequest to the church was a direct reflection of his parent’s dedication to the church and their very active involvement.
He was kind and cared about others, even those he didn’t know. Mr. Murray decided to name Frederick Memorial Hospital as a grant recipient because he received excellent care when admitted with a health issue. He knew that others in the community might need hospital care but may not be able to afford it, and he wanted to use his resources to help.
Mr. Murray passed away in January 2012. The Calvin Murray Charitable Fund was established, and in August 2014, the first grants were presented to The Howard Chapel Ridgeville UMC and Frederick Memorial Hospital. The church used its initial grant towards an addition to the building and updating other parts of the building to be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act. Representatives from the church anticipated future grants to provide support of mission projects in the Mount Airy, Maryland area, as well as other places in the United States and the world.
Frederick Memorial Hospital used its first grant towards The James M. Stockman Cancer Institute, which was under construction at the time. This state of the art facility that opened in the summer of 2017, now provides diagnosis, treatment, cancer patient follow-up, and support services under one roof. The annual grant now supports other programs and projects at the hospital.
Calvin Murray left a legacy that will positively impact countless people in perpetuity as annually, each entity will receive a grant that will support their programs. Fortunately, he had specified his wishes via his attorney in advance, and we were able to create his fund to carry out his charitable wishes exactly as he wanted. But because we didn’t know of his charitable intentions in advance of his death, we weren’t able to say thank you, and that’s sad.
We realize that Mr. Murray’s estate, in its size, is the exception rather than the rule. It’s important to know that no matter the size of your estate, every gift creates impact in the community. If you decide you would like to create a charitable fund with the Community Foundation that becomes active after your passing, we encourage you to talk with your professional advisors and us in advance, rather than to make it a surprise. That way, we understand what you wish to do and the legacy you’d like to leave. And, we can thank you personally for your vision and plans to help Frederick County be its best.
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