The Legacy of The Stark Family

Nov 23, 2016

“They led ordinary, hardworking lives and they loved their community”

In 2002 the Community Foundation board was informed that it would be entrusted with a $1.3 million bequest, “a special family legacy for a beloved community”, from a well-known Prince Edward County family. That year, Ival and Ruth Stark of Bloomfield set up a fund within the Foundation to honour the family and their tradition of philanthropy. Ival and Ruth were two of five sisters (the others were Sylvia, Keitha, and Leata), who lived their entire lives in the village of Bloomfield and area. In the absence of heirs, the family decided to establish a fund from the accumulated estates of the sisters and spouses (Keitha and Leata married locally) to support the needs of the local community.

The Stark family was well-known throughout Prince Edward County for supporting many community activities and countless charitable causes, often anonymously. A few phrases from the will set an agenda for the future: relief of poverty, relief of distress and suffering, excellence in education, scholarships for postsecondary education, transportation for needy and elderly residents … to and from medical appointments, promotion and the encouragement of the arts and graces of life … public concerts … public library … education museum.

The original bequest of $1.2 million continues to provide grants for a variety of local, innovative projects, primarily in the areas of education, health, social services, animal welfare, and County culture. The fund also supports scholarships at Loyalist and St. Lawrence Colleges for students from Prince Edward County. Every spring a volunteer committee made up of community members and chaired by long-time family friends and neighbours Tim and Linda Beatty review applications for grants from all over the County.

From 1879 to 2001, their entire lives, the sisters and their spouses supported the residents of the village and were well known there, as well as throughout the County of Prince Edward. Through this magnificent gift, the combined assets of the five Stark sisters and their spouses will continue to be put to good work for the benefit of local citizens forever. Their strong sense of civic responsibility continues to sustain worthy projects and causes in their beloved community.

By the 10th anniversary of the Fund in 2013, the fund had supported 116 grants in the County totalling $513,285; in addition growing the original donation by more than $85,000 – showing the power of endowment funds!

Tim Beatty, co-chair of the volunteer advisory committee that selects the grants each year, speaks fondly of “The Sisters” whom he had known his whole life: “They led ordinary, hardworking lives and they loved their community. Knowing that they are supporting projects that provide care for the elderly, benefit children and young people, and assist those less fortunate would make them very proud.”  Click here to see a short video about the Stark family.


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