Foundation helps community-spirited people 'give back'

August 11, 2003|HERB BROCK

Eric Mount and Richard Brown have closed out their careers in higher education. Jeannette Davis is still active in the business world, but is in the twilight of that career. They have all given a lot to their respective fields and to their communities.

But even in various stages of retirement or near retirement, the three Danvillians are not finished giving yet - and won't be for many, many years to come.

Mount and Brown, retired college professors, and Davis, a businesswoman, all have set up trusts with the new Wilderness Trace Community Foundation. Davis also serves on the foundation's board of directors. In these trusts, each has designated certain charities to receive certain amounts of money every year for years to come. In exchange for their generosity, the terms of the trust also will provide them with income for the rest of their lives and, in some cases, money for their families at the time of their deaths.


Mount, a retired religion professor at Centre College who still handles special teaching assignments around the country, set up his charitable remainder trust with his wife, Truly. The seed money for the trust are some stocks that he inherited.

Mount noted that he and his wife had worked with local investment counselor Flem Messer and the Lexington-based Bluegrass Community Trust, which manages some local community and personal trusts in Danville. Messer, who has long been an advocate for the establishment of a local community foundation for Danville, has continued advising the couple since they recently became involved with the Louisville-based, but locally managed, Wilderness Trace foundation. Wilderness Trace is part of the Community Foundation of Louisville.

"We had these stocks that had been inherited, and we wanted to do something before they got lost in the financial shuffle," said Mount. "So we bought insurance in the same amount of the stocks and then put the stocks in a charitable remainder trust."

The Mounts selected three charities to receive funds from the trust. Under terms of the trust, donors are given considerable flexibility, Mount said.

"When you pick the charities, they are not etched in stone," he said. "You can change them, such as we did. We've already dropped one and picked up another one."

The charities receive annual checks and so do donors

While the charities receive annual checks from the trust, so do the Mounts. And, at the time of the Mounts' deaths, the insurance they bought in the same amounts of the value of the stocks will go in the form of cash payments to their children.

"The attractiveness of the trust we've set up is that Truly and I will not only be doing something for the charities we have selected but also for our heirs and for ourselves while we're still around," Mount said. "It's definitely a win, win, win situation."

Another triple "winner" is Brown, a retired professor from New York University at Buffalo who has spent the last two decades in Danville writing histories of various local institutions, people and events. He also has been giving to charities.

"I have a phrase: You can do well by doing good," said Brown. "That phrase reflects the motivation behind my charitable giving."

And, not surprisingly, much of the giving by the retired prof has gone to institutions of higher learning.

"Over the years I have given to various charities, most of them education-oriented," Brown said. "I had gone to schools supported by taxpayers, in Ohio and Wisconsin, and I have felt particularly obligated to pay them back in some small way."

Brown has continued his giving ways through the Wilderness Trace foundation, and he especially likes the new organization because it is tied to the Danville community. He is continuing to give to the schools of his choice and to local organizations.

"Donors with the foundation not only get to give something to institutions or organizations of their choice, they also can realize tax breaks and income from their trusts," said Brown.

"And with (Wilderness Trace), I am able to give something back to my adopted community. Danville has been kind to us, so I feel this is a way of contributing something back to this community."

Davis, who had served many years as head of Admart and now is running a new local promotions and public relations company called Tenth Planet, also has been giving back to the community, in terms of time and energy as well as money.

For instance, she has been involved in a recent Rotary Club project in which some $45,000 was raised for cushioned flooring for the playground at Wilderness Trace Child Development Center (no relation to the community trust foundation) so the disabled children at the center don't hurt themselves while playing. Another $30,000 is going to Millennium Park for a shelter.

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