A desire to give back and memorialize his mother led a former Seymour resident to establish a designated fund at the Community Foundation of Jackson County.
Tom Easterday of Zionsville created the Mary Ellen Easterday Education Support Fund for St. Ambrose School in honor of his mother, who taught at the Seymour school in the 1960s.
The fund will pay its first grant in spring 2022 with the goal of providing grants to help St. Ambrose teachers and students.
Among examples of how grants from the fund may be used include funding field trips; purchasing classroom supplies, adaptive educational materials, computers or electronics equipment; or perhaps obtaining the rights for the use of educational software, music or scripts for plays.
Mary Ellen Easterday, a native of Fort Wayne, died May 23, 2020, at age 96 in Naples, Florida, where she had lived for nearly 30 years. She and her family — her husband, Edwin, and their four children — moved to Seymour in 1963. She taught fourth grade at St. Ambrose Catholic School and later substitute taught at St. Ambrose and for Seymour Community Schools. She also was involved with Tri Kappa during her time in Seymour.
Tom Easterday, an attorney and retired executive from Subaru of Indiana Automotive, is a former board member of the Community Foundation of Boone County in Lebanon. His service there made him familiar with the philanthropic work performed through community foundations.
“Through the creation of the Mary Ellen Easterday Education Support Fund for St. Ambrose School, the Community Foundation of Jackson County provided an excellent way to create a lasting legacy to honor my mom that can have a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of students and teachers well into the future,” Easterday said of why he established the fund.
“A donation to the fund allows a family member, friend or former student to memorialize my mom and recognize her life achievements, while also making an important investment in the education of children in the community,” he added.
Giving back and educating others were important to Mary Ellen Easterday.
“My mom loved to teach, and she strongly believed that through volunteering and serving as a school teacher she could help children learn important values and life skills, as well as share in fun and challenging experiences, that would prepare them for life,” Tom Easterday said.
“At St. Ambrose and in her substitute teaching at various other schools in Seymour, she greatly enjoyed interacting with students and assisting each of them in understanding how their education could lead to opportunities throughout their lives,” he added.
In addition to her work with Tri Kappa, Mary Ellen Easterday also volunteered with several charitable organizations and fund drives in Seymour and for the school and in the Scouting activities of her four children. Three of them attended St. Ambrose and each of them graduated from Seymour High School.
Her volunteer work traces to her youth. While earning a bachelor’s degree in education at Indiana University, she sold U.S. war bonds during World War II, was involved in a variety of campus organizations and participated in several charitable efforts as a member of Pi Beta Phi.
The new fund is one of 60 endowed designated funds that the Foundation administers.
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Gifts to the Mary Ellen Easterday Education Support fund may be sent to the Community Foundation of Jackson County (P.O. Box 1231, Seymour, IN 47274). Checks should be made payable to "Community Foundation of Jackson County" with "Easterday Education Support Fund" or "Easterday Fund" noted on the memo line of the check.
Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 200 funds with assets of more than $11 million. For information about how you can make a donation to any of the funds administered by the foundation or how you might start a new fund, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to Dan Davis at [email protected]. Send comments to [email protected].