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Donor Stories

The Barnard Family

The Barnard Family

This story could easily have had a very different ending. After all, what expectations are conjured up when you begin with a family of four fatherless children and a hard working mother in a textile mill? The Barnard family is this family. Losing a father to tuberculosis and seeing how hard his mother worked to support the family, a young man was given a gift and the plot thickened. A love offering was taken up at the Memorial United Methodist Church in Cramerton where the Barnards attended as members. $500 was collected to assist George Barnard in pursuing higher education at Duke University where he had earned a scholarship.

Fast forward to today and the Barnard Family has grown in many ways. They have increased their number and have been working to pass on the love and support they received so many years ago. George Barnard went on to become a respected psychiatrist, married and have children of his own. As a legacy, he has taught the lesson that gifts are meant to be passed along to future generations and that people are worth taking a chance on and given a chance.

As a vehicle to express this legacy, the Barnard Family sought counsel among civic leaders and the Community Foundation. Jennie Stultz was the Mayor of Gastonia and familiar with the Gaston Education Foundation, an endowment managed by the Community Foundation. Her idea was to structure a scholarship to be awarded to a deserving student. The Barnard Family strongly believes in giving someone facing a head wind or obstacle the support needed as a foot up to turn that person’s situation around, thus allowing them a tail wind into a brighter future.

Since setting up the Barnard Scholarship in 2000, the Barnard Family gathers at the same church in Cramerton that gave George the love gift to interview scholarship candidates. The Scholarship is administered and advertised by the Community Foundation of Gaston County. This is viewed as a special family time and is said by David Barnard, George’s son to be “one of the best things our family does”. The Barnard Family encourages those who are able to find out as they have the joy and invigoration of passing on those gifts received.

The Nigbor Family

The Nigbor Family

When a person talks about something they care about, you can see it on their face and in their eyes. It is a look of happiness and possibilities. Some might call it a “twinkle” in the eye. That is the look you see in the eyes of Heather and Doug Nigbor when they talk about their giving. The joy of giving is a part of their lives and a value they have chosen to live.

The Nigbors became acquainted with the Community Foundation through involvement with Run for the Money. Katherine Sanders first recruited Heather as a volunteer then Will and Suzanne Current invited them to participate in the Next Generation Fund. Working with the Community Foundation was a perfect fit for both Heather and Doug. As many donors of their generation, they want their gifts to be community based and add the greatest impact. In 2007, the Nigbors established their own Fund at the Foundation to use as a vehicle for giving.

Living and working in her home town of Nashville, Heather and Doug, a fellow at Vanderbilt, met at a chance meeting in a local eatery. Their story reads like a screen play and should be sold to make the next romantic comedy. They exchange glances, talk about sports but do not exchange phone numbers. Only two days later, Heather turns around to the pew behind her in church to meet Doug again and share the passing of the peace. Let’s suffice to say they have been passing the peace ever since.

Doug is a practicing Nephrologist in Gastonia. When asked how they arrived in Gastonia, the answer is none other than a native, Max Fisher. Max and Doug were co-fellows at Vanderbilt and Max told Doug about his hometown. Since Doug was from a very rural part of Indiana and needed some space and Heather had always enjoyed the benefits of city life in Nashville, Gastonia offered the perfect blend.

Now settled and going about the business of family and career, Doug explains how the benefits of having a fund at the Foundation make his giving so much easier. Having online updates and tracking of annual giving, simplifies the process of the family’s personal accounting. Heather and Doug each have individual charitable causes. The Nigbors can individually recommend grants and be able to track each other’s grants. The flexibility of a fund also allows them to give to the fund during more profitable years and draw from the fund in more lean years, thus keeping a steady flow of gifting as they see fit.

The joy of giving, not out of obligation or for gratitude, is a basic philosophy for the Nigbors. A strong faith is at the heart of their giving. In 2010, they directed gifts toward basic needs due to the state of the economy. Using the Foundation as a source to vet organizations, one such agency selected by the Nigbors was Crisis Assistance Ministry. Working through the Medical Alliance, Heather was acquainted with CAM and was impressed with the care and attention paid to clients of CAM. A CAM volunteer, Margaret McCarver has been a wonderful inspiration for the Nigbors. Crisis Assistance Ministry is a Christian charity, which very much appealed to the Nigbors. The Community Foundation manages an endowment for CAM. It is important to mention that planned gifts can be directed to this endowment for the perpetuation of the services CAM provides our community.

Intentional or not, the Nigbors are also teaching their three children about giving by example. Ben, age 5 and twins, Darby Shaw and Kirk, age 3 are welcome visitors at the Community Foundation. An active bunch, the family of Nigbors has greatly enriched Gaston County with their time, treasure and talents. We are fortunate to have them in our family of donors at the Community Foundation.

Katherine and Jason Sanders

Katherine and Jason Sanders

The Sanders Family is very familiar with the Community Foundation. As a former staff member and RUN for the Money coordinator, Katherine has spent many hours working for our community. Armed with the knowledge of resources at the Foundation, Katherine knew about the many giving vehicles available including donor advised funds.

A business transaction took place late in the year and created a tax situation for the Sanders which could result in a charitable gift. The pressure to make an informed decision about making an impactful gift was an immediate problem for the family. As the clock ticked toward December 31st, a donor advised fund (DAF) at the Community Foundation became the solution.

Establishing a DAF allows the Sanders family to carefully consider present and future gifts to nonprofits and achieve the tax deduction during the year the DAF is established at the Foundation.

Quote from Katherine:

“Having a donor advised fund at the Community Foundation allowed us to make a gift in one year and carefully consider gifts from the fund for the future.”

Mary Frances Friday

Mary Frances Friday

Mary Frances Friday was known at the Community Foundation for her generosity, infectious smile, pleasant personality and unusually tasty sugar cookies. A friend of the Foundation, she is greatly missed since her death in 2013 and might be embarrassed at the telling of her story. Thankfully, her family has given permission to tell her story because of the value of such a case study.

Mrs. Friday was introduced to the Community Foundation via professional advisors. Her particular circumstances left her with 100 acres of land formally farmed by her late husband, W. Kenneth Friday. Paramount to Mrs. Friday was how she would facilitate a gift to her church. Adding to the stress of how to liquidate assets was the daily management of the property itself.

The Community Foundation was able to help Mary Frances Friday achieve all of her goals. Several giving vehicles available at the Foundation were used to accomplish her specific wishes. Mrs. Friday donated 75 of her 100 acres to the Foundation to gain a tax deduction in that year. The proceeds of the sale of the land were placed in a charitable remainder trust, from which Mrs. Friday received an income. She was able to plan a gift to her church which is what precipitated the actions she took. Mrs. Friday also gained three nice neighbors, an unforeseen but added benefit.

Mary Frances Friday is remembered as a woman that loved her church, family and friends. We are better for having known her.

Meakin Family

“Go East Young Man” 



Santa Rosa, California, less than an hour’s drive north of San Francisco, has been described as “a city with a cool vibe and vibrant culture waiting to be explored.  It is the happening hub for all there is to see, do, eat, drink, hike, bike and explore in Sonoma County.” Sounds like somewhat of a modern day utopia.  So why would anyone leave a place like that?  The answer, of course, is to move to Gastonia, North Carolina!

We can thank Julia Shovelin and her husband Wayne for this strange turn of events.  It seems that while attending an event to support the Girl Scouts, Julia struck up a conversation with Sylvia Holmes, then Executive Director of Pioneer Girl Scout Council.  Mrs. Holmes was telling Mrs. Shovelin about her daughter and son-in-law, Chuck and Lindsay Meakin. At the time they were living in Santa Rosa where Dr. Meakin was practicing medicine but they were hoping to soon relocate and be closer to family on the east coast.  “What kind of doctor is he?” asked Julia.  Upon learning that Dr. Meakin was a Radiation Oncologist, Julia passed the information along to her husband, Wayne Shovelin, then CEO of Gaston Memorial Hospital and always in search of talent to fill the demands of a growing medical center.

In 1994, the Meakins moved to Gastonia.  Becoming ingrained in the community was a priority and natural first step for the Meakins. Growing up in Kings Mountain, Lindsay was already familiar with Gaston County.  Dr. Meakin soon became the Director of the Cancer Center of Gaston Memorial Hospital.  Since moving from California they have raised two children, Jack and Maisy. The Meakin family enjoys living close to Lindsay’s parents who are now retired in the Lake Norman area.  The Meakins attend St. Michaels Catholic Church and both children attended school there.

Lindsay has served with numerous civic organization and is a past Board member of the Schiele Museum and Crisis Assistance Ministries.  Dr. Meakin currently serves on the CaroMont Health Board and the City of Gastonia Parks and Recreation Board. He is a past Board member of Gaston Hospice, Cancer Services of Gaston County, US National Whitewater Center, Catawba Lands Conservancy and Belmont Abbey College.   

The Meakins have been dedicated supporters of The Community Foundation where Dr. Meakin has served on the Board as a Director. In addition to establishing a fund at the Community Foundation, the Meakin family has financially supported the Community Foundation Run since its inception.  “We have chosen to annually support charities and special projects and the Run gives us the opportunity to read about nonprofit organizations and learn about needs and work being done in the community we might not otherwise know about or come in contact with.  The Run allows donors to have a variety of charities to select from in terms of support,” commented Lindsay when asked what appealed to them about the Community Foundation Run. For example, the Meakin family chose to support the Belmont Rowing Center as a new non-profit participating in the Run.

We are fortunate that the connections made through Julia Shovelin and Sylvia Holmes brought the Meakin Family to Gastonia 22 years ago. For their continued support of our community and all they have done to make our community a better place, we say thank you.  We are grateful to the Meakin Family for their contributions to our community and for their work to make Gaston County a utopia for us all.


Chuck and Lindsay Meakin agreed to be honorary RUN Chairs for the 2017 Community Foundation RUN.  For their continued support of our community and all they have done to make our community a better place, we say thank you.  We are fortunate to have them here and are very grateful to the hospital and to their family for bringing them to Gastonia 22 years ago and for their work to make Gaston County a utopia for us all.

Ruby and Harry Bryant

  A Charmed Life

When you ask Harry Bryant to tell his story, you will get not one story but many stories.  In his telling, Harry is somewhere in the middle of a developing story that starts with his father and continues with children and grandchildren.  He can spin his tale with incredible memory of details including names and dates.  He needs to be reminded to include details about himself because Harry focuses his story on family, friends and especially his wife, Ruby.

Harry’s father, Charles “Charlie” Bryant lived and worked on his father’s farm and grocery store in Iredell County.  When Charlie was in the 8th grade he walked away from the farm to Charlotte, NC.  There he went to work for Southern Power Company with is now Duke Power and learned electrical skills. During WWI, Charlie worked with E.I. Dupont in the shell loading plant in Virginia.  He returned to the Charlotte area and went to work for Michael and Bivens in Gastonia in the electrical maintenance department.  In 1929, Michael and Bivens went bankrupt.   Although he was very young, Harry remembers the strike at Loray Mill and the trouble in New Orleans on a bridge site that was disrupted and led to the bankruptcy.   Harry’s father, Charlie Bryant was pressured to close up his motor shop which had been part of Michael and Bivens but sternly sent a message that the shop would not close.   On Feb. 1, 1930, Charlie Bryant opened Bryant Electric Repair Company which later became two companies: Bryant Electric Repair and Bryant Supply Company.

Harry was born in 1921.  Always around and interested in electricity, Harry’s first job was at age 8 when his father paid him 3 cents per hour to clean at the company.  Harry has been working ever since.  By age 28, Harry was running the company after his father had been elected to the NC House of Representatives.  Harry attended Gastonia High School, McCallie Preparatory School and UNC at Chapel Hill.    Once he returned to Gastonia, he continued working with his father.  Mr. Charlie Bryant held the opinion that the person answering the telephone for a business was a very important position because it represented the business. He became impressed with the person answering the phone at a certain mill in High Shoals.  As it turned out, Ruby was periodically answering calls to the mill for her father when she was home from school.  So impressed was Charlie Bryant that he hired the young lady.  Ruby and Harry were married January 14, 1943.  The same night, Harry received his draft notice.  Harry would serve his country in the U.S. Army Air force and return home in October of 1945.

Harry and Ruby have raised three sons and one daughter.  They will both exclaim, “thank God we had a daughter!”  Their sons are Tom, Dick and Harry although not listed in birth order.  Harry is very proud of his children and can trace their paths in great detail.  Pictures of grandchildren and great grandchildren are shared from his IPad and it is easy to see the joy the Bryant family shares.  Youngest son, Richard, is the only sibling to live outside of the Charlotte area.  Richard also differs from his brothers and father since he attended NC State rather than UNC.  His success in operating the largest independent brokerage firm in NC and SC has helped soften the blow of not attending UNC.  Ever the tarheel fan, Harry Bryant has been a long time supporter of Carolina athletics and education.   Carolina paraphernalia adorns his home and office.  Photos with the likes of Dean Smith, Roy Williams and Larry Fedora are among the family photos Harry shares.

Harry and Ruby Bryant have given back to their community in many ways.  Hesitant to talk about generosity, Harry feels that giving comes naturally.  Harry has been very involved with the Shriners.  In 1965, he served as Potentate.  He commented that people would be very surprised to know all the good the Shriners do as an organization.  Harry has also devoted time and talent to Gaston Country Club serving on the board for 8 years, then returning to the board for another two years.  During his tenure the club was relocated and many changes and improvements were made.  Harry is the oldest member at Gaston Country Club.  First ARP in Gastonia is the home church for the Bryants.  Harry credits his attitude towards caring for others as starting with the church.

Dr. William Current, Sr. credits his very existence to Southern Railway and Mr. Charlie Bryant.  Charlie Bryant and Dr. Alfred Current were first cousins.  Charlie Bryant recruited his cousin to come to Gastonia to practice dentistry.  While practicing dentistry, his bride to be was traveling through Gastonia on Southern Railway to purchase a trousseau for her upcoming wedding.  That wedding never happened.  Instead, Dr. Alfred Current eventually proposed on the old Dallas highway to his future bride and now we have a history of three generations of dentistry in Gastonia.

When asked about his involvement with the Community Foundation, Harry talks about the simplicity of having a fund and the advantages of having the fund managed.  “It just makes sense” Harry explains.  Harry may not realize how his good nature positively affects the staff of the Community Foundation.  Harry is a delight to work with and his attitude and kindness is appreciated.

Harry Bryant feels he has led a charmed life.  His gratitude for many blessings is expressed in the telling of his story.  Harry can name many childhood friends such as Chick Smith, Roy Kelly, Jack McCarver and Jimmy Moser.  He remembers when a date consisted of a soft drink and a pack of nabs.  Seven years ago, Bryant Supply was sold.  That has not stopped Harry from going to work.  He works at his office for a rental company he started and has no plans for retirement.

We can all learn some valuable lessons from Harry Bryant.  He will be the first to say he has ordered his life in this way:  God, family, work – and especially Ruby.  Harry’s dedication to the priorities in his life is visible and can account for why he defines his life as “charmed”.   He has served his country and his community.  We are grateful to the Bryant family and for the example they set for future generations.  

Brenda Craig

Gaston County Born and Bred: Brenda Craig

Ed Gallagher, founder of Good Will Distributors which later became Good Will Publishers, hired a Bible salesman named Thomas Baugh that turned out to marry his daughter, Edith.  Together, the happy couple raised six children and in the process of doing so imparted wisdom and a strong set of values.

Today, Brenda Craig, the second of the six children, lives in Gastonia and represents Ward 6 (West Gastonia) on the City Council.  In talking with Brenda, one can quickly surmise the Baugh children were fed a healthy dose of instruction to guide their lives.  Caring for the community was instilled in the Baugh children.  “Takers eat well, Givers sleep well” is an expression Brenda remembers from her childhood.  This expression has served as the basis for decisions she has had to make in considering if a position taken would serve the whole or just a select few.  Brenda remembers her parents directing their children to live outside themselves and to always be active in the community.

In 1995, Brenda started a fund at the Community Foundation in honor of her parents.  The Thomas E. and Edith G. Baugh Fund is in place to support youth oriented causes such as scholarships and educational opportunities as a way to honor her parents’ memory and life work.

Growing up in Gastonia, Brenda attended Sacred Heart and met her husband, Sidney Craig at Sweetland’s, a local hang out and drug store in downtown Gastonia.  A particular memory from her teenage years revealed that Mr. Baugh was ahead of his time in supporting the local economy.  Brenda, it seems, wanted a stylish new prom dress and planned to shop in Charlotte or Atlanta for just the right one.  Upon hearing this request, her father explained emphatically, “Young lady, if you can’t find a dress in Gastonia, you are not going to the prom.  I make my money here!”  Although not appreciated at the time, the message of keeping resources within the community was heard loud and clear.

Brenda and Sidney were married in 1959 and have raised two children:  Chip and Dawn Marie.  Brenda stayed home with children until they were in school.  Once she joined the working world, Brenda was recruited to be a member of the Rotary Club of Gastonia.  Seeing the Rotary Club as a vehicle to make a difference in the community, Brenda served on many committees.  Jick Garland, former Gastonia Mayor, asked Brenda to chair the Crime and Drug Task Force.  She accepted and worked alongside 12-15 committee members to implement policies and guidelines to keep our community safe.  Town meetings were held with focus groups yielding many good recommendations for the city and county which each could choose to adopt.  One example was to increase DARE officers in the schools and monies for drug education.  This experience proved to be a valuable introduction into local government.  It was an opportunity to meet people and work with government staff.

At one point in her career, Brenda went to work for First Gaston Bank as Assistant VP of the small business portfolio.  The bank encouraged community involvement and activity so this served as a good fit.  After two years, an opportunity presented itself with the Gaston Chamber of Commerce which was yet another vehicle to promote Gastonia and Gaston County.  In June 2009, Brenda was appointed to the City Council to fulfill a vacant term.  The appointment caused her to reflect on the path she had taken to this point and to realize that without her direct knowledge, she had been building a resume and had been preparing for this service.  When her term length was up she ran in the next election and won.

Another example of community outreach within the family involves Sidney Craig, Brenda’s husband of 54 years. Some of Sidney’s friends, knowing him to be an outdoorsman, approached him about becoming involved in Troop 4 at First ARP Church. Sidney agreed and found he enjoyed the interaction with a boy lead organization that promoted morality and strong ethics.  He began serving on the Board of Review and volunteered for 10 years until his recent retirement as Scout Master.  During his tenure, 24 scouts earned the highest rank of Eagle in Troop 4.

Brenda’s brother Tommy Baugh was an Eagle Scout.  Scouting was a very important part of his life.  As a member of the St. Michael’s Scout Troop, he had fond memories of time spent at Camp Bud Schiele.  He and Sidney would discuss the memories but also the current condition and need of improvements.  Tommy one day sent a check to be used as Sidney thought best.  Setting up a fund at the Community Foundation was decided as the course of action until it was determined how to best utilize funds.  Since the BSA Troop 4 of First ARP Church Fund has been established, others have contributed and the money is being used to make much needed improvements to the Camp.  Sadly, we lost Tommy Baugh in the fall of 2012 to a battle with cancer but not before he made a meaningful appearance at the Allen Sims Dinner to honor his long time friend, Johnny Long.  We will miss Tommy and his participation and support of the Community Foundation and all his many contributions to this community.

Brenda Craig and her family have a history of giving back to our community.  It should not be surprising to learn that she is not stopping there and looking back but rather looks ahead to a bright and bold future.  Brenda’s most recent endeavor is a joint project between the City of Gastonia and the Optimist Club to build a Park adjacent to the Greater Gastonia Boys and Girls Club, formerly West Gastonia Boys and Girls Club.  The Gastonia Optimist Club Park Fund has recently been established at the Community Foundation to provide funding for the park.  The renderings are available and detail how beautiful and functional the park will be completed.

Congratulations to Brenda and Sidney Craig for contributing in so many ways to the growth and health of our community.  As the impetus of three funds at the Community Foundation, Brenda has a total grasp of how things can be accomplished by working together.  Gaston County and Gastonia has seen the benefit of the Gallagher, Baugh and Craig families in all they have done to support and foster those of us that make our homes here.  They have proven to be “Givers” rather than “Takers” and we are very grateful.

Share the Community Foundation's Impact

Do you have a story about how the Community Foundation has made an impact on your life, the life of someone you know, or an organization that is important to you? Share your story by contacting Donor Development Officer, Elizabeth Patton at (704) 864-0927 or by email.

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