The Community Foundation of Abilene was created in 1985 with a $750,000 gift from the Dodge Jones Foundation, a local p[rivate foundation, that believed in the power of endowed philanthropy and wanted others to be able to establish endowments to benefit Abilene. $500,000 of this gift formed a permanent endowment for unrestricted grants; the balance was used to fund administration.
The Foundation was chartered on April 29, 1985 with Elbert E. Hall serving as the first chairman. The new organization met June 4, 1985, to adopt its by-laws and elected Jesse C. Fletcher as vice chairman, G. Philip Morehead as treasurer and Lawrence E. Gill as secretary. It received its 501(c)(3) ruling from the Internal Revenue Service Oct. 18, 1985.
Other founding trustees included Joe E. Canon; Bynum Miers, a local rancher; Frank Puckett, president of the Abilene Reporter News; attorney Jane Varner; W. P. Wright Jr., an Abilene petroleum distributer; and advertising executive H.C. Zachry. Others include Harwell Barber, chairman of Rita Barber Inc.; Peggy Beckham, a local homemaker and civic leader; Tucker Bridwell, an Abilene oilman; physician Jack Ramsey; Abilene Christian University chancellor John Stevens and investment broker John Shelton.
The board later added six more trustees to further strengthen the new organization: Harwell Barber, chairman of Rita Barber Inc.; Peggy Beckham, a local homemaker and civic leader; Tucker Bridwell, an Abilene oilman; physician Jack Ramsey; Abilene Christian University chancellor John Stevens; and investment broker John Shelton.
A Brief History of the Community Foundation of Abilene
by Jesse C. Fletcher, Ph.D.