January 23, 2013
by Diane Hinkle, Development Director
Many of you may have known Kep and Alice Smith – or knew of them. I first met Kep in the 80s when we served together on a board. He was a gentleman’s’ gentleman – always impeccably dressed with snow white hair and delightfully blue eyes. He was a master craftsman who enjoyed a good joke and was frugal to a fault. He and his wife loved their native Tucker County and their bequest to the Tucker Community Foundation demonstrates their vision, their passion and the power of local philanthropy.
Kep was born July 28, 1914 at Red Creek. He attended Saplin Ridge – Mt. View School during his first years of education, graduated from Parsons Graded School and Parsons High School with the class of 1933 and earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Kent State University.
Kep served with the U.S. Navy for 30 years. During that time he engaged in Operation Deep Freeze and served tours of duty in both the Arctic and Antarctic with Adm. Richard E. Byrd as well as taking part in many military operations around the world. He was captain of the ship, USS Point Barrow that participated in atomic testing at Johnson Island in the Pacific. On April 1, 1960, he married Alice Mae Degler .
Alice was reared by her grandparents in Hambleton. She was a 1936 graduate of Parsons High School and earned a BS degree from Davis & Elkins College and an MBA from Kent State University. She was the first clerk for the Monongahela Power Company in Parsons. For several years she taught school in Mahoning County, Ohio. She also taught part time at Mount Union College. She served 38 months on active duty with the U.S. Women Marines during World War II and was discharged with the rank of Technical Sergeant.
Upon Kep’s retirement, the Smiths returned to Tucker County to become part of the community. Kep and Alice were active in the Tucker Community Foundation from the start. He was a charter member of the Board of Directors and established one of our first Endowed Funds: the Elliott Kepler and Alice Mae Degler Smith Fund.
Kep died at their home in Parsons, July 29, 1998; Alice died July 23, 2006 at Colonial Place in Elkins. Upon her death their estate, valued at more than $7 million, was put into a trust to be administered by Citizens Bank of WV. The income generated was bequeathed equally to Tucker Community Endowment Foundation nka Tucker Community Foundation and the Ohio-WV YMCA Camp nka Camp Horseshoe Leadership Center; the income was designated as unrestricted.
A few years before her death, Alice wrote a letter listing different nonprofits and charitable causes she and Kep liked to support. The Foundation has been diligent about honoring those wishes.
The impact of the Smith Trust on our communities has been, and will continue to be, significant. Since 2006, grant money from the unrestricted income has provided emergency generators for disaster preparedness and major funding for 4-H camp, the Salvation Army, WV Public Radio and WV Public Television, Five Rivers and Mountain Top Library, Emergency Services, the Historical Society, etc. Smith Trust income has provided more than $62,000 for scholarship awards.
“Unrestricted income allows the Foundation
maximum flexibility to use it where it is needed most.”
Rob Burns, TCF Executive Director
Over a five year period $40,000 of unrestricted income has leveraged close to $400,000 for community causes throughout the region through the Run For It program; $54,000 used to seed Woodland Community Lenders helped that organization secure an additional $100,000 for business loans. Matching funds from the Smith Trust helped secure a $43,600 grant for the Feet Under Seats campaign. Kep and Alice would appreciate that rate of return on their investment in their community.
The Smith story is just one of many. Each of the 84 endowed funds managed by this foundation tells a story. We invite you to stop by the main office in Parsons or Run For It Headquarters in Davis and read some of the fund descriptions.
Tucker Community Foundation’s mission is to create opportunities for the communities we serve. We are committed to helping those that want to help others. If you, your family, or a club or civic organization you belong to would like to learn more about TCF call 304.478-2930 or 304-259-5008 to schedule a meeting or presentation.