It is a legacy that has long outlived its benefactor, particularly in the rural towns and villages of northern Indiana County.
Dr. William Guy Evans Jr. (1919-2002) was a family practitioner from 1948 to 1992.
“My father was a physician in Clymer,” his daughter Peggy recalled. “He realized that in the Penns Manor, Marion Center and Purchase Line school districts there were many disadvantaged people.”
He served as president and secretary of the Indiana County Medical Society and president of the medical staff at Indiana Hospital (now Indiana Regional Medical Center).
He helped found the Visiting Nurse Association and in the early 1960s he was responsible for a campaign to inoculate all county residents with the Sabin polio vaccine.
With his wife Ruth Tucker Evans (1916-2013), the couple established the Evans Health Care Fund.
“He wanted to give back to the community, particularly the health care needs,” Peggy Evans said.
The fund is among those managed by the Indiana County Endowment, also known as the Greater Indiana Endowment.
“(It is a) community foundation that provides grant money to assist local nonprofit organizations that fill the needs of our Indiana County residents,” said Scott Weber, chairman of the ICE board of directors. “In my opinion, we often fund projects where fundraising for the organizations is hard to come by.”
It is a well-kept secret.
“Unfortunately the foundation is probably one of the better-kept secrets in Indiana County,” Weber said. “Our grant-making ability is limited by the performance of the fund.”
ICE in turn is a part of the Pittsburgh Foundation, with a mission to meet the need in Indiana County for a well-managed pool of assets providing grants to qualified nonprofits.
“This spring they accepted a special request proposal from us, and through their approval processes funded $5,000 from the Evans Fund,” wrote Jane Lockard-Clawson, executive director of the United Way of Indiana County.
On June 18, ICE said it was accepting applications until noon Aug. 15 for programs that can benefit from the Evans fund.
ICE also announced that it had funded a request from the Community Guidance Center for additional crisis training, saying on Facebook it is an asset for Indiana County “during this pandemic and in its aftermath (to have) highly trained professionals to help people deal with the many problems and challenges.”
ICE was established in 1990 by local citizens and patrons, including Indiana native Jimmy Stewart and his wife Gloria.
“Both are component funds of the Pittsburgh Foundation, but the Evans Fund is specific to certain needs of northern Indiana County,” Weber said. “It speaks to the legacy of the late Dr. Evans who served that part of the county for many years.”
Peggy Evans said her parents’ fund is meant to help improve the health and lives of residents in Marion Center, Penns Manor and Purchase Line.
“In the past they used it for defibrillators for at least one or two fire stations, and for reading literacy programs,” she said. “They also set up a fund for scholarships in those three school districts.”
Another Evans Fund-aided event in Marion Center centered around issues involving whooping cough or pertussis, which made its way into area school districts last fall.
“We did not put on the event, but provided funding to assist in its happening,” Weber said. “We will continue to evaluate requests for funding of educational events that meet the criteria of the foundation or the Evans Fund.”
The ICE board chairman said donations are always accepted and welcomed and can be made through the icendowment.org website. ICE also maintains a Facebook page.