The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 10, 2013

Donor's spirit of philanthropy continues


For The Register-Herald

BECKLEY — Warren Ashby Thornhill III cared about his community. Following his death on Jan. 2, 2013, there were many acknowledgments regarding his spirit of philanthropy.

 He is remembered for the time he took away from his law practice to raise funds for our YMCA building. He was one of the original incorporators of the Beckley Area Foundation and served as the second president of its Board of Directors. He chaired a United Way Campaign, taught Sunday school at Beckley Presbyterian Church, served on the board of Davis-Stuart Children’s Home, received the Spirit of Beckley award, was president of the Raleigh County Bar Association and served on the Carter Family Foundation Advisory Board.

During the 27 years that Thornhill provided leadership for BAF either as a board member or as an attorney, he and his family established 11 permanent endowments at the Foundation. Fifteen years ago, he made arrangements which have now provided more than $250,000 for a 12th BAF endowment, the Warren and Carol Thornhill Discretionary Fund.

William Kinder, a local insurance agent, related the circumstances: “In 1997, I had a meeting with Warren to review some estate planning issues, and in the course of the conversation, he indicated that he had named the Beckley Area Foundation as beneficiary of his retirement plan. He was a year away from having to start taking required minimum distributions from his retirement account, and since those distributions would lower the account value, there would be a reduction in the amount BAF would receive upon his death.

“I then suggested that he instead use those required minimum distributions to purchase a $500,000 life insurance policy which would be owned by the Foundation and funded by tax-deductible gifts equal to his required minimum distributions.”

“Thanks to this strategy, even though as the years went by and his retirement fund was reduced to approximately $50,000, upon his death the Foundation received an additional $500,000 from the life insurance.”

“If Mr. Thornhill had not had the foresight to do this planning, his generosity would have directed $50,000 to be divided among several permanent BAF endowments. However, because of these advance arrangements, BAF will receive a portion of a much larger $550,000 legacy gift.”

In the many years he worked with the Beckley Area Foundation and the Carter Family Foundation, Thornhill came to understand the value of having significant sources of unrestricted charitable funds that could be used to address changing needs in the community. The income generated from the new Warren and Carol Thornhill Discretionary Fund can be pooled with money from other unrestricted funds and used for major special projects and to respond to the Foundation’s annual community grant program.

The remainder of this legacy gift will be apportioned and added to the Tomlinson Endowment for the YMCA of Southern West Virginia, the Beckley Presbyterian Church Endowment, the Word-Connor Administrative Fund, the Ashby Thornhill Memorial Law School Scholarship Fund, the Carolyn Bishop Thornhill Scholarship Fund, the Estelle Myers Thornhill Scholarship Fund, the Katherine Thornhill Scholarship Fund, the Lynn Thornhill Scholarship fund, the Warren Thornhill Law School Scholarship Fund and the Clarence and Eleanor Hepler Bishop Memorial Fund.

“I hope that the citizens of Raleigh County will join our staff, the current and former members of the BAF Board of Directors, and dozens of local charitable organizations in expressing our appreciation for the generosity of Warren Thornhill and his family,” commented Michael Caven-dish, chair of the BAF board. “Contact your financial advisors if you are interested in making arrangements for a similar legacy gift.”

Anyone may make a contribution in any amount to this fund. The gifts will be invested and the income will be used for good, forever.

Make checks payable to BAF-Thornhill Discretionary Fund and mail to Beckley Area Foundation, 129 Main St., Suite 203, Beckley, WV 25801. Call 304-253-3806 for more information.