24 May 2011

WRHS Receives $12 Million Bequest

  As a member of the Western Reserve Historical Society, I was pleased to see the front-page news report in today's (Tuesday, 24 May 2011) Cleveland Plain Dealer that it would receive more than $12 million from the estate of Kay Crawford. Mrs. Crawford was the widow of  Frederick C. Crawford, an avid car and plane collector, and president of Thompson Products that later became TRW. Fred Crawford donated his collection to WRHS and it formed the core of the society's Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum. He died in 1994
  Late in 2009, when the society announced that it was selling off some of the cars in the collection to pay down debt, Kay Crawford supported the outcry of area auto buffs against the move. Gainor Davis, president of the society, and other officials, met with Crawford, and eventually the ruffled feathers were smoothed over, resulting in this bequest, that Davis called "a transformational gift for us."
  Kay Crawford died in 2010, at age 94.
  One provision in her bequest is that the Cleveland Foundation will administer the use of the funds by WRHS.   Further, according to the PD report, "The Crawford name must remain on the auto-aviation museum, the exhibit must remain open to the public, and money from the estate can only be used for the transportation-themed collection, which now includes about 140 cars, 10 airplanes and numerous motorcycles, bicycles and other collectibles."
  Why do I consider this development relevant to genealogy and family history in Northeastern Ohio? Plainly, it helps solidify the future of WRHS as a local institution, and indirectly helps assure the future of the Genealogy Center housed in the Library of the society. 
  From the PD report: "The nonprofit is 'poised for a rebirth' according to Davis. Donations to its annual fund jumped by 25 percent during the past fiscal year, and general admission revenue rose by 13 percent."
  Further,  "the historical society also learned recently it will receive $250,000 from the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission to restore several structures at Hale Farm & Village, its 90-acre living history museum in Bath."
  Now if WRHS could just find a generous benefactor for the Genealogy Center and Library, maybe they could remain open more days of the week (in addition to the current Thursday-Friday-Saturday hours) to better serve the genealogical community of NEOhio.

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