In the Community

‘Yellow Fever Fund’ at Work 162 Years Later

In 1855 a Yellow Fever epidemic raged through Norfolk and Portsmouth killing one in three residents. News of the devastation inspired donors around the world to give $178,288 to start the Howard Association in Norfolk. The charity, named for British philanthropist John Howard, set up a hospital, started an orphanage, fed the hungry and paid to bury 2,300 people.

Howard Association materials at Slover Library
Howard Association records are preserved at the Slover Library.

At the time no one could imagine that Yellow Fever would be eradicated. But that happened around 1900 so the Howard Association shifted its charitable focus.

Each year it donated a portion of its assets to area hospitals and several other worthy organizations. A board of directors watched over the association until 1987 when board members “realized we were just supporting the same organizations over and over and that our board members weren’t going to live forever,” recalls Cyrus W. Grandy V of Norfolk. He was the youngest board member at the time and had succeeded his father on the board. “We wanted the Howard Association name to continue and the funds to continue for charity,” he adds.

The solution was to transfer all the assets – $128,472 – to what is now the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. The board started the unrestricted Howard Association Fund to support an array of causes in Hampton Roads. It donated its records to the Sargeant Memorial Collection, the history center now at the Slover Library.

Thanks to the power of endowment the “Yellow Fever Fund” has grown while doing good works. It has provided $316,280 in grants to help hundreds of area nonprofits – most of them tackling issues no one in the 19th century could imagine. While supporting good causes, the Howard Association Fund has grown to a value of $235,111. Because it is an unrestricted fund, the Howard Association Fund underpins grants to area health and wellness, educational, human services, environmental, and arts and cultural organizations.

Our community foundation is honored to help the Howard Association keep pace with changing times and to make sure its name and good works last forever.

Return to all posts

Stay informed. Sign up for the latest updates from our foundation.

More In the Community Posts