Kick back with a cup of coffee on this fine Fun(d) Friday, and enjoy learning more about why we love where we live. In this blog series, we showcase some of the funds that we hold near to our hearts here at the Jasper Newton Foundation (JNF) and in our wider communities.

Real Estate, Washington D.C., and a Friend

Buckle up and get ready for this week’s history lesson; we promise it will be more fun than your high school history class. In this week’s blog we’re stepping back in time to dig deeper into one of the most prominent families in Rensselaer’s history: the Leopolds.

The Leopold family was integral in the building of the Rensselaer community. Abraham and Emilie (Etzlbacher) Leopold were immigrants to the United States from Germany in the mid-1800s, and upon arriving in Rensselaer, they opened a dry goods and real estate business on West Washington Street. Several of the streets around Rensselaer—Emilie, Rachel, Milton, and of course, Leopold—are named after family members.

One of Abraham and Emilie’s great grandchildren was a beloved Rensselaer favorite: William W. Leopold. It’s William who is also the main character of our story today. A fourth generation member of the Leopold family in Rensselaer, William graduated from Rensselaer High School in 1946 and continued his education at Indiana University.

William returned to his home town to work with his father at Home Finance Company on Cullen Street and in later years continued his business career with the federal Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C. Known for his kindness and generosity, William had many friends in the area and throughout the country, and they were greatly impacted by his passing on November 20, 2012.

Funds in Jasper and Newton Counties

In his lifetime, William was described as modest, loyal, and caring, and he had a passion for civic, business, and philanthropic work. As proof, we are taking a peek at several funds that William started at JNF in his lifetime.

In December of 2000, William established his first fund at JNF, the William W. Leopold Scholarship Fund, with the primary purpose of providing support for a RCHS senior interested in a trade or technical school or a degree in accounting or business.

Six years later in September, William created the Glenn H. Leopold Fund for Hazeldon-George Ade’s Home, and he started the Pauline W. Leopold Fund for Fountain Park Chautauqua to support both orginization’s work in the community. William named these funds after his parents, Glenn and Pauline (Wolf) Leopold who were Rensselaer residents and business owners. The funds benefit upkeep and general operations of George Ade’s historic home in Newton County and Fountain Park Chautauqua in Jasper County.

Two years before his passing, William returned to JNF with another fund idea to help local residents. In December of 2010, William entered a fund agreement with JNF for the Prairie Lodge 125 F. & A.M. Fund to provide support to the Lodge in Rensselaer to carry out its role and mission.

Someone said that William was always humble about his generosity and few were aware of the extent of the contributions William made to his hometown community.

Rensselaer Central High School Scholarships

The William W. Leopold Scholarship is a prominent scholarship housed at JNF, and it has impacted many Rensselaer students over the past twenty years.

This scholarship has specific qualifications as per the wishes of William. Not only should the student pursue trade or technical school or an accounting or business degree, but also the student must be accepted in at least a two-year program. Additionally, William instructed that the recipient should demonstrate financial need and hold a minimum 2.25 grade point average. Because of his strong ties to the community, William also wanted to give preference of this scholarship to a student willing to return to Jasper County to work.

In recent years, awardees have received upwards of ten thousand dollars to put towards their school expenses. Students have attended Ivy Tech Community College, Valparaiso University, Wabash College, and City of New York Baruch College, to name a few. Applications open in November to rising seniors on the JNF website.

The late Dr. John Egan, former Jasper Foundation Board of Directors President and longtime Rensselaer resident wrote fondly of William. “Mr. Leopold always had a warm, soft spot in his heart for Rensselaer,” he said in a letter from 1998. “And he has long wanted to ‘do something’ for the youngsters of our town, something for the future of Rensselaer whose past is dear to him.”

William’s love for his community is evident not only in the generous scholarship fund he established, but also in the numerous other funds he created to benefit the place some of us call home.

How YOU Can #LoveWhereYouLive

William began his giving through JNF over twenty years ago because of the rich history of his family in the area; he truly loved where he lived. His kindness and generosity has bettered our community in more ways than any of us could ever imagine. We all take inspiration from William’s awesome selflessness and giving spirit.

With your help, JNF can continue bettering our community in remembrance of William and his family. Together we can create real, effective change. You can donate online now or send in a check to JNF, and make a difference in his family’s name.

Without generous community members like you, the Jasper Newton Foundation and the Leopold funds would not be where we are today. Your efforts to better our communities do not go unnoticed, and we are grateful for your continued support and encouragement towards our funds. Like William and the Leopold family, we are proud to love where we live.

Leave a comment if you have a fund you would like to see featured. Stop by in the coming Fun(d) Fridays to learn more about the amazing funds here at JNF!

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