Perrysburg Schools Foundation receives $1M gift - largest in its history

Estate of lifelong Perrysburg resident Mary Cranker to create endowed fund for elementary arts education

Perrysburg Schools Foundation receives $1M gift - largest in its history
Perrysburg elementary school students will be the beneficiaries of a $1 million gift to the Perrysburg Schools Foundation. The gift will go toward funding elementary arts education.

PERRYSBURG (WTOL) - The Perrysburg Schools Foundation is receiving its largest gift to date from the estate of Mary Cranker, Perrysburg High School Class of 1935.

While the exact size of the gift is still being finalized through the estate, the anticipated gift of more than $1 million will create an endowed fund that will be used for early introduction to the arts for Perrysburg elementary students.

Mary Cranker passed away in October 2017 and spent her entire 99-year life in Perrysburg. She was an avid supporter of the arts and quite the artist herself. She had a great appreciation for poetry, music and fine arts.

Mary Cranker, Perrysburg High School Class of 1935, left a large gift to the Perrysburg Schools Foundation in her estate plan.
Mary Cranker, Perrysburg High School Class of 1935, left a large gift to the Perrysburg Schools Foundation in her estate plan. (SOURCE: Perrysburg Schools Foundation)

Cranker worked at Owens-Illinois as an executive secretary until she retired in 1975. While at Perrysburg High School, she was active in student government, the National Honor Society, the Somethin’ student newspaper, science club, Latin club and dramatic club.

“While the relationship between Perrysburg Schools and Mary began when she started school back in the early 1920s, we had the chance to introduce Mary to the efforts of the Perrysburg Schools Foundation and the opportunity to support the arts here in Perrysburg a few years ago. It was a pleasure to get to know her and learn about her passion for doing good in our community,” said Jeff Abke, director of development for Perrysburg Schools and the Perrysburg Schools Foundation. “It is neat to think about how her generosity will be felt throughout the entire community.”

This gift, made in memory of Cranker’s maternal grandfather, Edwin H. Simmons, will be part of a comprehensive fundraising campaign for the arts at Perrysburg Schools, from preschool through grade 12. It will include gifts made to the arts booster groups, the Perrysburg Schools Foundation and the school district.

The goal is to raise $3.5 million in private gifts prior to December 31, 2021, and will be formally launched Jan. 16 at an event for supporters. The gift brings the total raised to date to nearly $2 million.

“To have someone include Perrysburg Schools Foundation in their estate plan, at any level, is humbling,” said Rich Jambor, PSF president. “That is a very personal decision and it means that they deeply connect with our mission, which is to support the students and teachers of Perrysburg Schools. For Mary to entrust us to continue her legacy in this way is a mission that we do not take lightly.”

Along with student discovery of the arts, the campaign will focus on providing an enhanced student experience in the arts, program growth and program sustainability.

“This gift and the corresponding campaign is a milestone in the history of Perrysburg Schools,” shared Thomas L. Hosler, superintendent of Perrysburg schools. “We have always had terrific arts programs at Perrysburg and set the bar high, and now having the flexibility to push the boundaries even further is very exciting. Through this gift, Mary is becoming the patron saint of the arts at Perrysburg. The students starting in preschool in the fall, will graduate from PHS 100 years after Mary did, yet her impact will be felt directly by them and for generations of Yellow Jackets beyond that. We are so grateful to Mary for making this happen.”

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