Tucker Community FoundationCommon Threads . . . Tucker Community Foundation news, notes and nonsuch

January 4, 2016 – 2015 closed out on another high note with more than $650,000 in donations, new endowments, and grant funds benefitting communities in the eight county region served by Tucker Community Foundation: Barbour, Grant, Mineral, Preston, Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker Counties, West Virginia and Garrett County, Maryland.

Eleven new endowments were created.  The Davis Family Fund of Davis Health System Foundation is an unrestricted agency endowed fund.  The Katherine Zabriskie Canaan Valley Fire Department Fund and Katherine Zabriskie Emergency Medical Services Fund (for Canaan Valley) were both established by the Zabriskie estate. Two education funds benefit Preston County:  the After School Explorers Fund for after school programming and the Kingwood Elementary School Fund to provide perpetual funding for educational services at the school.  The Taylor-Beall & Snyder Family Fund is a community based fund that benefits the Canaan Valley VFD Auxiliary.  The Albert A. & Frances M. Kerzic Memorial (donor-advised) Fund benefits the Town of Davis.  The ArtsBank Fund is agency endowed to support art programs in Randolph County schools.  Another agency endowed fund, the Belington Public Library Fund, provides perpetual operational support. The Mark Hutchison / David Cosner Scholarship Fund is a memorial tribute to the life and service of two Randolph County students that will benefit Randolph County Vo-tech students. The Bucher Family (donor-advised) Fund will support broad based initiatives in Randolph, Tucker, Pendleton and Barbour counties.

Over the next several months, Common Threads articles will detail our growing roster of endowed funds by area of interest.  Fund descriptions are online at www.tuckerfoundation.net and make for interesting reading.  This week’s Common Threads features funds supporting the Arts.

The Fred T. Busk Fund was established by Dorothy Demboski in September of 1996 with memorial donations given by friends and family.  The purpose of the fund is to enable an artist of any media to pursue education, training or furtherance of their career opportunity.  Age is not a factor.

Busk was a talented photographer and creative co-founder of The Art Company of Davis.  He grew up in New England and Bermuda, graduated from The Groton School, Groton, CT and attended Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT.   In 1976 he moved to West Virginia as the owner of Mountain Artisans, Inc. of Charleston, which was one of the country’s most successful ventures in the design and marketing of cottage industry needlecrafts, quilts, clothing and home furnishings. In 1978 he moved to Tucker County with his wife Dorothy and began to pursue his dream of becoming a photographer.  Fred worked with many of the best photographers in the field, including George Tice, Paul Caponigro and Ernest Haas.  

Fred was an avid skier and worked for many years as a ski instructor at Canaan Valley Ski area.  His love of the sport and teaching was contagious. He had a gift for making complicated things seem easy and even hilarious.  His gift of humor is remembered by many.  On May 27, 1991, at the age of 51, Fred died of a heart attack at his home in Davis.

The Garrett James “Dutch” Easton Fund was created by Brent and Megan Easton in 2009 in memory of Brent’s brother “Dutch” to promote creative arts in Tucker County schools.  Donations from friends and family members and a very successful Run For It team have helped build the fund.  Team Fresh Canvas mounts an impressive lineup in the annual 5k race.   Dutch Easton was an innovator with pen and pencil, sculpture, and graphic arts, but also an ornate character that really fit no particular mold.   Born February 18, 1980 in Alexandria, VA, Dutch resided in Canaan Valley for several years prior to his passing in March 2004.

The WVHighlands STArt Fund was initiated in 2013 to provide sustainable funding for the STArt Project, a community supported corporative project to promote and benefit students of the local (Tucker County) schools and the general population. The WVHighlands Artisans Group initiated the School-Town Art Project in 2009 as outreach to its community with a threefold purpose: to support art instruction through the county schools; to give visibility to the results; and to encourage students to take active roles in the indigenous arts community.

The STArt leadership and volunteers fortify the links between school and town through the arts by sponsoring an annual artwork exhibition of all student populations of Tucker County for community appreciation. STArt strives to encourage cooperative projects among the retail arts venues of Tucker County, foster intergenerational participation in public arts projects to benefit both community spirit and public sites, enhance public access to arts instruction as continuing programs in education and civic life, cultivate civic awareness of the benefits of the arts and artistic expression in education and life, advocate administrative understanding of and funding for the instructional and aspirational goals of the arts in public education, and promote Tucker County as a viable arts destination for tourists.

The Carl DelSignore Fund for Creative Arts was endowed in 1991 by a grant from the Carl DelSignore Foundation.  In addition to providing unrestricted funding for creative art projects and programs, the Fund supported the printing of History of Tucker County by Cleta Long with the net profits from the first printing of 1,000 copies donated back to the Fund.

Carl DelSignore, the son of Italian immigrants Paulo and Vincenzia Pizzoferrato DelSignore, was born Sept. 27, 1920 the oldest of eight children. Carl quit school in the tenth grade at Thomas High School and enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps. While there he was seriously injured in a truck accident.  His leg was crushed so badly that doctors doubted he would ever walk again. In 1942 he enlisted in the United States navy and served aboard the submarine, USS Harder which, while he was aboard, sunk eleven enemy ships.

During his enlistment, his father bought a farm at Table Rock which contained a known mineable coal seam, with the idea of joining his sons in the operation of a coal mine when they returned from World War II.  When the plan was implemented, the mine, DelSignore Coal Company, did not last long.  Over the next several years the family experienced set-backs in strip mining, the family farm, and other small holdings and businesses, but coal remained their first interest.

In partnership with his brothers, Warren and Carmen, Carl formed Buffalo Coal Company and with the help of an accountant, Lionel “Bud” Tetrick, the company began to flourish.  Their mines were non-union, tightly organized and it has been said the employees found the company to be strict, yet fair.  Carl became known for providing equipment for snow removal, emergencies, and community projects. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, enjoyed big game hunting, and he was known to appreciate the need for environmental control. He was active in the West Virginia Mining and Reclamation Association and was one of the founders of the Mining and Reclamation Council of which he served as its first treasurer and later chairman.

In the early 1980’s, Carl constructed a modern coal cleaning plant as soon as it was in operation, began construction of a home for himself that was known as Del-Acres. July 15, 1985, Carl married his long-time companion, Evelyn Friend of Oakland, MD. A little more than a month later he fell while getting out of his plane. He was taken to Garrett Memorial Hospital in Oakland where he died unexpectedly Aug. 28, 1985.

At the time of his death, Carl DelSignore was owner, chief executive and chairman of the board for Buffalo Coal Company, Davis Trucking Company, DelSignore Lumber, Bison Coal Company, and Del-Acres.  Following his death, the Carl DelSignore Foundation was established with his friend and business associate, Don Cussins, as its president.

The Busk, DelSignore, Easton, STArt, and ArtsBank Funds collectively provide more than $6,500 in annual grant awards to support the arts and donations continue to grow the funds.

Endowed funds allow the donor to determine the distribution guidelines and name the fund.  Funds are invested for growth and income preserving the historical value of the initial donation and generating annual grants for perpetuity.

For more information how to endow a fund for the Arts, or other area of interest, contact the Foundation Development Office at 259-5008.


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