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.
For more than three decades, The Community Foundation of Frederick County has worked with donors to translate their charitable intentions into powerful acts of philanthropy. By connecting people who care with causes that matter, the Community Foundation has found a way to build community and enrich the quality of life in Frederick County—now and for generations to come.
Jack Leishear is one of the people who has reached out to the Community Foundation to help him leverage his resources to set in motion real and lasting change in Frederick County.
First introduced to The Community Foundation of Frederick County in 2001 when he was settling his father’s estate, Mr. Leishear recalls being impressed with the organization’s philosophy and leadership. In 2003, he became a supporter of the Community Foundation himself. Over the past 18 years, he has served as one of the organization’s strategic funding partners, supported basic human needs and access to health care and has given generously to the Widening Circles campaign.
Although originally from Montgomery County, Mr. Leishear has adopted Frederick County as his home. Very much a self-made man, he shares his resources with those less fortunate through The Jack V. Leishear Endowment Fund #1, which he established at the Community Foundation. The proceeds from this donor-advised fund have supported local nonprofits including the Frederick Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army, Mission of Mercy, and the Frederick County Department of Aging, Senior Services Division, as well as the American Heart Association, Fisher Center Alzheimer Research Foundation, Hearing Health Foundation, Judicial Watch, the Heritage Foundation, and WETA.
Mr. Leishear is also a member of the Community Foundation’s Cornerstone Society. In addition to the fund he established during his lifetime, the legacy gift he has provided for in his estate plan will help ensure the future of Frederick County by providing grants that will be used to address the greatest needs of our community—needs we can’t predict but must be prepared to deal with.
Being a progressive influence for change means constantly seeking new and more powerful ways to create impact. Since 2011, the Community Foundation has been working toward targeting our funding toward the most pressing issues of our community as identified in the Frederick County Human Needs Assessments that are commissioned periodically to ‘take the pulse’ of our community. In 2018, our board of trustees adopted an even more proactive approach to addressing our greatest needs, not just now but in the future as well, with the creation of the Forever Frederick County campaign.
The Forever Frederick County campaign creates funds to provide strategic grants based on Frederick County’s most pressing needs as determined by the 2018 Frederick County Human Needs Assessment and similar studies moving forward. Donors like Mr. Leishear have either given gifts now or will contribute funds through planned giving that will be available to meet these future needs as they emerge. They have put their trust in the board of trustees and the Community Foundation staff to invest their charitable gifts and grant them wisely and to act with integrity.
The Forever Frederick County Endowment Fund will provide the resources we need to shape the future and preserve the quality of life for all who call Frederick County home. With the support of donors like Mr. Leishear and thousands more like him, the Forever Frederick County Fund will be a powerful agent for change—now, tomorrow, and in perpetuity.
When Gordon Cooley and Teresa Warfield were growing up in Hyattstown and Damascus, Maryland, respectively, helping friends and neighbors in need was “just something the community did. There was very little fanfare,” said Mr. Cooley. “Either through the church or some other way, those who were in a position to help just did so—we took care of each other.”
In 1999, Mr. and Mrs. Cooley established a donor-advised fund at The Community Foundation of Frederick County. Over the past several decades, The Gordon M. and Teresa Warfield Cooley Charitable Gift Fund has resulted in significant grant support to local nonprofits, including The Arc of Frederick County, Blessings in a Backpack, Goodwill Industries, Mission of Mercy, New Spire Arts, Women’s Giving Circle, Heartly House, Interfaith Housing Alliance, and more. In addition, the Cooleys have generously supported The Bar Association Justice for All Fund for many years, which helps people obtain legal services regardless of their ability to pay. Then, in 2019, the Cooleys created The Gordon and Teresa Cooley Unrestricted Fund in support of the Community Foundation’s Forever Frederick County Campaign.
Although many would say that this type of generous support for those in need is far less typical than it used to be, the Cooleys respectfully disagree. Thanks to the robust and strategic grantmaking efforts of the Community Foundation, one of the organizations they have passionately supported for 23 years, generous individuals continue to be intimately involved with ensuring the quality of life for those who live and work here.
And because Mr. and Mrs. Cooley believe financial support is only part of helping their community thrive, both have generously given their time to the Community Foundation, as well as other local nonprofits. Mrs. Cooley was a member of the Community Foundation’s Special Events committee for many years, and Mr. Cooley served on its board of trustees from 2000-2006, including a one-year term as its chairman from 2004-2005. With his return to the board in 2018 to chair the Forever Frederick County Campaign, he became the first person to serve a second term as a Community Foundation trustee.
According to Mrs. Cooley, one of the things that impressed her most about the Community Foundation is its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all in Frederick County. “The organization is very careful to recruit representatives from all over the county to serve on its board,” she said. “The trustees are not only well-respected for their expertise in business; they are also well-known and trusted in their communities as volunteers, and this helps ensure that every area has a voice and as many people as possible are being lifted up.”
The Forever Frederick County Campaign is one of the most critical initiatives the Community Foundation has ever launched. When it was time to choose a community leader for this effort, one of the first people who came to mind was Gordon Cooley. The board of trustees knew he had the vision and the imagination to see the importance of this effort and the institutional knowledge to understand why a campaign like this was so necessary.
Mr. Cooley said that contributions to The Forever Frederick County Fund provide the Community Foundation with the resources it needs to be more flexible, act more nimbly, and respond more quickly as new, pressing needs emerge—issues that may threaten Frederick’s quality of life in the future.
“It is heartwarming to see how many donors have come forward to make gifts in support of the Forever Frederick County initiative,” he said. “That’s indicative of a very high level of community trust in this organization. When you look at the people who have come forward to serve as trustees over the past 35 years, it’s easy to understand why the community has such faith in the Community Foundation.”
Joseph Compofelice was a man dedicated to hard work, learning new skills, and mentoring others. These character traits will forever be reflected in a fund in his memory with The Community Foundation of Frederick County.
Mr. Compofelice had a long and distinguished career that can be traced back to when he was 12 years old when he began learning to paint homes. Throughout his life, he acquired multiple building skills and was always eager to learn more. He served his country with the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. After serving in the Navy, he began working for the Department of Energy. His broad knowledge, his ongoing quest for perfection, and his motivation to continually learn new skills enabled Mr. Compofelice to advance to the position of project manager at the Naval National Medical Center (now Walter Reed National Military Medical Center) in Bethesda. He retired after working more than 30 years with the federal government.
After Mr. Compofelice passed away, his wife Susan wanted to honor his memory and turned to the Community Foundation in 2016 to establish The Compofelice Family Fund for Building Trades. The fund’s purpose is to support organizations seeking to help Frederick County residents receive training for construction trades in the Frederick County area, with preference given to plumbing, carpentry, electrical services, masonry, and other skills associated with the building industry. Grants may be used to pay for training, educational materials, certification fees, transportation costs, and eliminating any barrier that may prevent students from completing their training program and establishing a career in the building trades.
To date, the fund has provided grants to organizations such as Platoon 22 to assist veterans with the cost of building trades certification, Frederick Career and Technology Center FFA Alumni for student safety training, and Frederick Community College Foundation in support of building trades scholarships.
Mr. Compofelice’s strong work ethic and desire to help others succeed is reflected in the fund in his memory with the Community Foundation. His legacy will help countless Frederick County residents pursue their career goals and further develop their building trades skills.
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.”
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