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