GREENFIELD — During her lifetime, Phyllis Wright made three $25 donations to the Hancock County Community Foundation, but her final gift will have a significantly greater impact.
The foundation recently announced that assets Wright committed in a 1998 fund agreement matured into a $1.7 million gift that will establish an endowed scholarship fund for local high school graduates seeking to continue their education.
“She was a very smart lady and managed her finances well,” said foundation President Mary Gibble.
The Phyllis Wright Scholarship Endowment Fund will generate scholarship grants for Greenfield-Central and Mt. Vernon high school graduates seeking to continue their educations either by way of a college degree or other certification.
“She was really interested in people furthering their educations in any way,” Gibble said.
The foundation will begin working on award criteria for the scholarships, and the first payout is anticipated to occur in 2016.
Wright, 90, who died last July, never strayed too far from her family farm near Mohawk.
A farm girl at heart, Wright was an only child, said Marty Wyatt, whose husband, Ron, is Wright’s nephew. Ron handled his aunt’s affairs later in life.
A 1941 graduate of Mt. Comfort High School, Wright understood grain marketing and merchandising and spent most of her career at the Board of Trade in Indianapolis.
She later worked at the Maxwell Grain elevator and Hancock County Tractor.
Dorothy Gunn, whose career as a nurse at Hancock Regional Hospital spanned 43 years, knew Wright during her time as a volunteer at the hospital, work Wright enjoyed.
“Phyllis was very well known in this community,” Gunn said. “She was a receptionist in the surgery area, and she really enjoyed it – really enjoyed the people.”
Greenfield estate planning attorney John Apple said the foundation gift was one of several that Wright left to benefit the area’s youth and the county as a whole.
“She gave to several very worthwhile charitable services, including the hospital, where she volunteered, and the Boys & Girls Clubs,” Apple said.
“My feeling is that it was a young person sort of thing, and she wanted to do what she could to help,” he said.
Though her gifts were substantial, Wright was not the kind of person to flaunt her generosity, say those who knew her.
“She was a very humble person and, obviously, very giving. She wasn’t the kind of person that wanted to be out in front; she wanted to do what she could do and stay in the background,” Apple said.
“She was a precious person,” Wyatt said. “She didn’t need much. Because she was an only child, she was very close to her first cousins. It was a very tight-knit family.”
Gibble said the foundation celebrates substantial gifts like Wright’s, but “all gifts are honored,” she said.
“These types of gifts obviously move the needle very quickly, but you don’t have to be wealthy to make a difference,” Gibble said.
Currently there is a “transfer of wealth” between generations that is occurring, and Wright’s donation “serves as a great example to give back,” she said.
“Anyone can make a difference,” Gibble said.