Faithful Friends Leave Transformative Gift to Community
Lifelong friends, Willa L. Fancher and Martha A. Taggart loved to travel, but they were proud to call Kansas City home. Now, their generous $2.8 million planned gift to Truman Heartland Community Foundation will ensure their affection for the region is felt forever.
Willa L. Fancher, a graduate of Ridgeway High School in Ridgeway, Missouri, moved to Kansas City in 1943 for a position with the U.S. Army Quartermaster Depot. She later switched to a career in data processing and in 1959, became the first female computer programmer for General Services Administration, where she worked until her retirement in 1981.
Martha A. Taggart grew up in Linneus, Missouri. After graduating from Linneus High School, she attended Northeast Missouri State Teachers College (Truman State University) and majored in music and business education. Like Willa, she moved to Kansas City in 1943 where she began work at Gustin-Bacon Manufacturing Company. When the company was sold in 1966, and following Mr. Gustin’s death, she worked as the Gustin family’s personal executive assistant until her retirement in 1981.
Willa and Martha were introduced by mutual friends shortly after their arrival in Kansas City. They quickly developed a loyal friendship that would span six decades. In addition to their love of travel, they shared a desire to make a difference in the community. Willa and Martha were members of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, a women’s philanthropic organization, and were active members of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Raymore, where they moved after retiring.
Inspired by their love of the region and a desire to help the community address its most pressing needs, the women worked with their attorney to include a planned gift to Truman Heartland Community Foundation in their estate plans.
When Willa passed away in 2019, preceded by Martha in 2010, their gift established the Willa L. Fancher and Martha A. Taggart Endowment Fund. Their $2.8 million gift to the foundation is undesignated and entrusted to the Community Foundation Board. For 2021, the Truman Heartland Board has decided to use $60,000 of the earnings from the fund for Foundation operations and $65,000 for community grants.
As a part of the Community Foundation’s Annual Competitive Grants program, the Willa L. Fancher and Martha A. Taggart Endowment Fund will expand Truman Heartland’s reach and giving potential, investing in organizations and projects that strengthen the communities in Eastern Jackson County and Cass County, where the women spent their final years.
As an endowed grantmaking fund, Willa and Martha’s legacy will live on into perpetuity. Over the next 50 years, the fund should more than double in size and is projected to make cumulative grants of more than $9.1 million.
Willa and Martha’s gift is a perfect example of the power of an unrestricted endowment fund. Their generosity will transform Truman Heartland’s ability to address the needs of our community, today and long into the future, and will inspire others to do the same.