In the Community

Giving Back: World War I Veteran Remains Relevant

A World War I veteran, Clarence Robertson was president of Norfolk, Virginia’s Robertson Investment Crop. and Robertson Chemical Co. He was an elder at Presbyterian Church of Norfolk, a Rotary Club of Norfolk member and served on the board of Hampton-Sydney College, his alma mater.

Many people may not remember Clarence, whose companies no longer exist. But we remember him well at the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. We consider this local business and civic leader who died in 1965 at the age of 73 a visionary philanthropist.

In 1968, Robertson's generous $42,000 bequest to the Hampton Roads Community established a permanent unrestricted fund in his name. In the 47 years the Clarence B. Robertson Fund has existed, it has more than quadrupled to about $180,000. It has also unpinned a variety of nonprofits in the region -- many of which did not exist when Robertson was alive! By choosing an unrestricted fund, Robertson paved the way for our current board of director to respond to current needs.

So far more than $215,000 from the Robertson Fund has been awarded in grants to area nonprofits including the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Crispus Attucks Cultural Center.

Robertson's generosity inspired his cousin, Lelia E. Robertson of Norfolk to start two unrestricted funds herself. This former YWCA board president donated $106,928 in 1973 in memory of her father Walter H. Robertson and then arranged for her own $104,503 bequest following her death in 1979.

Today, all three Robertson endowments continue to grow while helping Hampton Roads citizens thrive in ways the donors could not have imagined decades ago.

You, too, can leave a legacy! Click here to learn how to start a fund at the community foundation or donate to one already doing great work.

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