Friends honor man with endowment for Boys and Girls Club of Seymour

Tracy Bullard’s life revolved around the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour.

Growing up, he could be found interacting with other kids at the club.

Later when he returned to the city after college, he became a member of the club’s board of directors and wound up serving for 20 years. He also was awarded the National Service to Youth Award from Boys and Girls Club of America.

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That was well-deserved because he was always donating and giving as much as he could to the kids.

Some of that giving, however, was unbeknownst to his friends.

It wasn’t until after Bullard’s death Dec. 19 that longtime friend Doug Prather learned when Union Hardware was closing in downtown Seymour, Bullard bought bicycles at a discounted rate, took them to the Boys and Girls Club and told Executive Director Ryon Wheeler to give them to kids who earn them.

Since the club meant so much to Bullard, his friends came together after he died to establish the Tracy Bullard Memorial Endowment at the Community Foundation of Jackson County.

The fund will provide an annual grant to the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, helping provide member scholarships and other assistance to club members. Gifts to the fund can be tax-deductible.

In mid-January, Prather, David Earley, Kevin Gabbard, Darrin Boas and Brett Sciarra came up with a list of 115 people to send letters to asking for donations to the endowment.

Since then, more than $19,000 of their $25,000 goal has been raised.

“I think that speaks on who Tracy was,” Earley said. “He touched everybody’s lives.”

They recently came up with more names to mail letters to, and now, they are reaching out to the public to help with the campaign.

The idea for the fund originated the Friday before Bullard’s funeral when Earley called Gabbard.

“I still had an apple in my throat when I called Gabby. All I could get out was, ‘Gabby, we need to do something,’” Earley said. “He said, ‘Yeah, you’re right.’ … I didn’t know what the answer was, but we needed to do something. The ball got started rolling there, and it has just taken off from there.”

Gabbard shared the idea with Prather, Sciarra and Boas, and they were all on board with raising money.

“I was on the Boys and Girls Club board and served with (Bullard) for 15 years. It was just a lifelong love of his,” Gabbard said.

“We decided we would try to raise some funds and endow it so the earnings from it could do the things like what we’re talking about with the bicycles,” he said. “It’s a designated fund. They’ll take the earnings from the fund, and every March, they’ll make a gift and they’ll cut a check to the Boys and Girls Club with the earnings.”

Initially, Gabbard thought about doing a scholarship in Bullard’s name to benefit a club kid. Wheeler, however, thought it would be better to come up with a way to benefit more kids throughout the year.

“A common theme I heard from the beginning was endowed so it wasn’t just a one-and-done, it wasn’t just a donation,” Prather said. “We wanted to set the goal pretty high. Knowing that Tracy touched a lot of people, we really felt the goal was realistic, but just like he did, we knew we wanted to keep it going. We wanted something that would go with the perpetuity.”

Prather said if Bullard knew a fund was set up in his name to help club kids, he would be proud.

“He would love it. He would absolutely be ecstatic about it,” Prather said.

Sciarra said he looks forward to seeing how the fund benefits kids.

“This is about honoring Tracy and sending those funds to Ryon at the club to use as he sees necessary as executive director,” he said.

Sciarra said he got to know Bullard when they lived near each other, and their daughters also were in the same class in school.

Prather and Bullard became good friends through athletics, from their time at Emerson Elementary School all the way through Seymour High School. They went their separate ways in college and then reunited after that when they both settled back in Seymour.

Bullard helped run his family’s business and got to know a lot of people in the area.

“I think the majority of it was when he was doing the maintenance stuff,” Prather said. “He knew everybody in town because he was in all of these factories all of the time, and Tracy never, ever met anybody that he didn’t friend. If you read the stuff after he passed away, everybody’s comment was his smile, his laugh, he’s just everybody’s friend, just bigger than life.”

Prather said he couldn’t go anywhere or do anything with Bullard without taking extra time because he always ran into someone he knew and genuinely wanted to know how they were doing.

Gabbard said Bullard was unique because he had a connection with everybody he knew.

“They had something that was just those two, but that was important to him,” Gabbard said.

Bullard also had a knack for remembering details, Prather said.

“The guy had a memory that was unbelievable,” he said. “There were four of us that ran around all the time, and football was our sport. He would sit and tell the same old stories, but it would be sitting around and going, ‘Now do you guys remember the time when we were in Shelbyville our sophomore year, it was third and 7 in the sectional.’ He was dead-on. All of us are like, ‘No, we don’t remember.’”

At Bullard’s funeral while talking to Jeff Joray, one of the four friends who ran around together, he said he realized something.

“One of my comments was, ‘We lost our storyteller,’” Prather said. “The four of us would laugh and joke, and it was Tracy that told the stories. We couldn’t tell the stories like him. He remembered all of them. We just laughed.”

Gabbard said Bullard always made time to talk to club kids, either from the past or present, while both Earley and Prather said Bullard often stopped by to visit their parents.

Sciarra said that’s just the type of person Bullard was.

“He was a local character that we all took for granted, a local legend,” Sciarra said, smiling.

“If you lived in Seymour, you knew Tracy. If you were active at all in anything, you knew Tracy,” Earley said. “I think it was the whole shock after (he died), it got all of us to think, ‘Man, you think you’ve got 88 years or whatever. I’ll live as long as Mom and Dad.’ There are no guarantees. It’s so true.”

Wheeler said with the endowment, Bullard’s legacy will live on for years to come.

“People will know the purpose behind it and still tell a story of who Tracy Bullard was,” he said. “It may be written on a piece of paper with a picture that people wouldn’t have a direct connection 50 or 100 years from now, but they’ll know what he was about.”

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The Tracy Bullard Memorial Endowment will provide an annual grant to the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, helping provide member scholarships and other assistance to club members.

Gifts to the fund can be tax-deductible.

To donate by check, make your check payable to the Community Foundation of Jackson County and write "Tracy Bullard Fund" in the memo. Mail your gift to Community Foundation of Jackson County, P.O. Box 1231, Seymour, IN 47274.

Gifts to the fund also may be left at the foundation’s office, 107 Community Drive, Seymour, or made online at and clicking on the “Donate Now” button.

Information: Call 812-523-4483 or email [email protected]