The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 10, 2013

Thornhill legacy honors community, spirit of Wills Week

Editor’s note: Kathie Thornhill, daughter of the late Beckley attorney and philanthropist Warren Thornhill, has written this column in observance of Wills Week, which celebrates the importance of leaving a legacy.

My dad, Warren Thornhill, loved this area. He thought that Beckley was the greatest place on earth. I don’t think that he ever considered moving somewhere else, even though golf was one of his favorite hobbies and the long winter months weren’t always kind to golfers. His only concession was a condo in Pinehurst, N.C., where he could play golf at times when the cold West Virginia weather was unyielding.

During his lifetime he showed his support for the community by creating a number of funds through the Beckley Area Foundation (BAF), including the Tomlinson fund for the YMCA. (A legacy gift from the estate of George Warren Hodel was later added to this fund.)

Family and education were important to him so he set up scholarship funds at a number of schools in the names of his parents, his grandfather, his wife and his three children. When his twin granddaughters were born, he started a fund in their names to benefit West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

One of Dad’s ongoing concerns was the need for discretionary income to enable BAF to fund projects that enhance the Beckley area without specifically earmarking funds for a particular activity or organization. His will contained a provision that used half of his IRA and insurance proceeds to establish the Warren and Carolyn Thornhill Discretionary Endowment Fund.

Other proceeds were added to the Beckley Presbyterian Church Fund and to the Word-Connor Administrative Fund which honors two of his good friends, Jim Word and Charlie Connor, and helps defray administrative costs of BAF. The Clarence and Eleanor Hepler Bishop Fund (my mother’s parents) also received funds.

The rest of the proceeds were divided among our six family scholarship funds and the Abbey and Sarah Thornhill Fund for West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

His legacy gifts ensure the work that he started in his lifetime will continue after his death and that future projects and needs that he hadn’t imagined but would have wanted to support can be completed in the community that he loved.

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