SHENANDOAH, Iowa, Sept. 22, 2017 –- The family of the late farmwife, mother, musician, artist and community leader Isabel Spears, who lived just south of Shenandoah, has given our Shenandoah Iowa Education Foundation its first significantly large donation -- $20,000.
The family gift is announced by Roger Spears, of Durham, N.C., a 1972 Shenandoah High School graduate and recently retired architect, in memory of his mother Isabel McQueen Spears, who died in June, 2016, at the age of 97.
“My mother was profoundly insistent on the importance of education,” Roger said. “It didn’t matter to her what you pursued, as long as you gave it your best, but everybody who knew her realizes how much she loved music. She and my dad, Dale Spears, were both great supporters of the Shenandoah school system.” Dale died in 2005.
“As she was getting into her final years, we talked, and she said she was interested in having her estate do something for Shenandoah students, and if it could involve helping the music program, she especially liked that idea.”
And that will start happening soon.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kerri Nelson called the donation “a very generous memorial gift,” and added that “the foundation and the school district would like to express sincere gratitude to the Spears family for making such a meaningful contribution.”
Nelson added that Isabel Spears “was a talented musician, and her passion for music will now carry forward to enhance the quality of education in the Shenandoah school district.”
Isabel was a dynamic character – even in her late years “a real firecracker,” according to her pastor, Rev. Jenny Folmar, pastor of the Congregational United Church of Christ in Shenandoah. (You can read more about Spears in a new “Board Blog” by Chuck Offenburger, by clicking here.)
Nick Bosley, of Shenandoah, who is treasurer of the foundation, said the Spears donation “is huge” for the 501(c)3 organization, which was legally incorporated as a non-profit, tax-exempt, charitable foundation in April, 2016. “I feel we can use this as a springboard to bigger and better things,” he said.
Bosley confirmed that the $20,000 gift is the largest the foundation has received, and that it raises the total donated “since our inception to around $45,000.”
The foundation is conducting a “Founding Donor Campaign” during the calendar year of 2017, with a goal of $250,000 in gifts, in order to give the new endowment a solid base.
All 11 members of the board of directors have made contributions or pledges, and board members have reported they know of several other significant donations are pending from alumni and other supporters of the Shenandoah schools.
So, what does the Spears donation say about that family and its commitment to public education in general and our schools in particular?
“When I was speaking to Roger Spears on the phone, I could tell how important it was to honor his mother’s memory and to help the school’s music department with this donation,” Bosley said. “I also sensed that Roger still has a lasting connection to this school and our community, and I feel that this donation directly reflects that.”
Corby Fichter, of Shenandoah, president of the foundation, said “the foundation will use this gift to enhance educational opportunities for teachers and students of our Shenandoah schools,” specifically in music. “Our entire foundation board says ‘thank you’ to the Spears family for this awesome gift.”
Donations to the foundation can be in the form of cash, stocks/bonds, land, or other tangible assets. They can be made in several ways, which are detailed under the “Donate” tab at the top of this website’s home page or by clicking here.