Champion of the Month

Merlin J. Loew Share

Mar 7, 2019  |  Layla Price-Bodkin

Many local orga­ni­za­tions are being nour­ished unex­pect­ed­ly by a rip­ple-effect gift craft­ed by a gen­er­ous Mar­i­on man long ago. 

Mer­lin J. Loew first came to Mar­i­on from Chica­go on busi­ness through the Osborn Paper Co., but soon made Mar­i­on his home, mar­ry­ing Mary Eliz­a­beth Mayme” Moore Spencer, the wid­ow of the grand Spencer Hotel’s heir, Robert Spencer. Mayme fell ill on vaca­tion just a few years lat­er, and passed away in 1960.

Loew showed pas­sion for invest­ing, doing busi­ness, and help­ing his com­mu­ni­ty. Loew owned sev­er­al hun­dred acres of land in east Mar­i­on, which includ­ed mul­ti­ple lakes lav­ished with marine life. He enjoyed dri­ving his trac­tor and work­ing in his fields. He also owned sev­er­al pieces of land in cen­tral Marion.

But Loew did not rest on his lau­rels lit­er­al­ly nor fig­u­ra­tive­ly. He strived to accom­plish wealth, then shared in his accom­plish­ments by donat­ing land to assist in devel­op­ment of Mar­i­on Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal, First Unit­ed Methodist Church, World Gospel Mis­sion, Mar­i­on Col­lege (now Indi­ana Wes­leyan Uni­ver­si­ty), and Van Buren’s Amer­i­can Legion.

Mean­while, he worked to devel­op a giv­ing plan after his death that would amount to over $3 mil­lion to fund 19 local non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions. In 2019, 38 years after his pass­ing in 1981, the pay­outs began. The Mer­lin J. Loew Fam­i­ly Trust award­ed var­i­ous amounts (some with spe­cif­ic pur­pos­es) to the Grant Coun­ty Eco­nom­ic Growth Coun­cil, Grant Coun­ty Res­cue Mis­sion, Mar­i­on Phil­har­mon­ic Orches­tra, Ser­vices for the Visu­al­ly and Hear­ing-Impaired, Mar­i­on Com­mu­ni­ty Schools, Marion/​Grant Coun­ty Senior Cen­ter, Mar­i­on Civic The­atre, Habi­tat for Human­i­ty, Grant Coun­ty Fam­i­ly YMCA, West­min­ster Preschool, Friends of the Gar­dens of Mat­ter Park, Fam­i­ly Ser­vice Soci­ety, Wil­son-Vaughn Host­ess House, World Gospel Mis­sion, First Unit­ed Methodist Church, St. Paul Parish, Unit­ed Way of Grant Coun­ty, Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion of Grant Coun­ty, and the Mer­lin J. Loew Field of Inter­est Fund to sup­port projects or pro­grams for African Amer­i­cans and oth­er minori­ties and/​or dis­ad­van­taged individuals.

In an excerpt of the Com­mu­ni­ty Foundation’s press release, Com­mu­ni­ty Foun­da­tion Chair­woman Geor­gette Miller stat­ed, When these very broad-reach­ing non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions put these funds to work, just imag­ine the com­bined impact they are going to have! The com­mu­ni­ty in gen­er­al will ben­e­fit immense­ly from his gen­eros­i­ty and his fore­sight to estab­lish this trust.”

The Foun­da­tion held a cer­e­mo­ny to cel­e­brate Loew’s gen­eros­i­ty, and pre­sent­ed checks to the mul­ti­ple organizations. 

Below are reac­tions from a few receiv­ing nonprofits:

The Grant Coun­ty Res­cue Mis­sion is so very grate­ful to the Mer­lin J. Loew fam­i­ly trust for this gen­er­ous gift. The focus of GCRM is to pro­vide Life Chang­ing HOPE to peo­ple in and around our com­mu­ni­ty. With this gift the HOPE con­tin­ues.” – Rick Berbereia, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Grant Coun­ty Res­cue Mission

The Growth Coun­cil is hum­bled to be includ­ed in MJ Loew’s vision for a bet­ter Grant Coun­ty.“ – Brett Carey, Pres­i­dent, Grant Coun­ty Eco­nom­ic Growth Council

Like each of the 19 recip­i­ents, the YMCA is so grate­ful for this gift. The Y and our lead­ers are mind­ful of the plan­ning, vision, and faith it took to cre­ate this com­mu­ni­ty-chang­ing invest­ment. We are look­ing for­ward to invest­ing this mon­ey back into Grant Coun­ty through the work of the Y…multiplying this act of kind­ness by impact­ing our youth, adults, fam­i­lies, and seniors through qual­i­ty pro­grams that improve spir­it, mind, and body, for all.” — Kyle Strohman, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Grant Coun­ty Fam­i­ly YMCA

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