Stories

Lasting legacy: The gift that keeps on giving, forever.

March 22, 2024Community Funds

It isn’t often one person has the opportunity, ability and charisma to impact an entire community. It’s even more rare for someone to arrive in a small Kentucky town in adulthood and leave an imprint so large that the town now carries his legacy proudly after his passing.

But sometimes, when the cards fall just right, a person can do all of that while also changing the lives of so many. For Franklin County, that man was George Russell.

George was born in Rome, Georgia, and found his way to the Bluegrass State after he graduated from Abilene Christian University in Texas, and served two years in the Peace Corps in Chile. However, once he arrived, he was a force to be reckoned with.

After planting in Franklin County, George became friends with local financial advisor, and future mayor of Frankfort, Layne Wilkerson, who was serving as chair of the board for the Franklin County Community Fund (FCCF). Through Wilkerson’s encouragement and persistence, George’s interest was finally sparked.

He quickly became a pillar of the FCCF board, yearning to understand how the community fund worked, the impact it had on the community, and who among his arsenal of connections would best serve the community as a member of the board. Single-handedly, George was responsible for the recruitment of six board members and led by example by putting his whole self into the success of the community fund.

George’s love of travel, exploration and knowledge allowed him to take many adventures. From across Kentucky, to Europe, to Kazakhstan and Malawi, to Montenegro and Cambodia, to Kosovo and El Salvador, George was always eager to bring a small piece of those communities back to the town he called home.

“George’s professional work took him to many counties where he experienced the local culture and their communities,” said current FCCF board member Wil Rhodes. “These experiences frequently brought back new perspectives and a reinforced love and commitment of his own community of Frankfort. He understood that people were much more powerful as a collective and that belief found a home in the Franklin County Community Fund.”

Sadly, George passed suddenly in December of 2022 and for many people in Franklin County, the question became, “What will we do without George Russell’s impact?”

Luckily, George answered that question himself.

His generosity and love for his community led him to leave a sizable legacy gift to the Franklin County Community Fund. While there are other planned gifts set to be left to FCCF, George’s gift is the first in the community to come to fruition. His gift has made it possible for the community fund to hit almost a quarter of a million dollars in assets, which will impact the Franklin County community for years to come.

“While we acknowledge and appreciate all the contributions that have grown the fund over the past few years, it is legacy gifts that can really make it grow,” said board member Harry Carver. “George Russell’s inclusion of the fund in his estate planning resulted in our first legacy gift, making a huge difference in the fund’s balance. By doing this, George will keep giving to our community for generations to come.”

Your will tells a story – it’s a testament to your lifetime of accomplishments, and it ensures your values live on. Your charitable giving reflects your values today, and for George, his gift was only the beginning.

“George was so well known, so deeply committed to his community and so voraciously loved, people have opened funds and given gifts simply because it was important to him,” said Blue Grass Community Foundation’s Director of Community Advancement Jane Higgins. “We celebrate his life and his legacy by giving back to the community he loved. I’ve heard many times since his passing, ‘I support the Franklin County Community fund because George supported the Franklin County Community Fund.’”

Blue Grass Community Foundation and the Franklin County Community Fund are honored to have been a part of George’s story and, even more so, a part of his lasting legacy.

To learn more about how Blue Grass Community Foundation can help you ensure your philanthropic values live on, contact Jane Higgins.