Yawkey Foundations — Doing unto others

  • Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Golden Rule says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Those are good words to live by and many people do what they can to do what’s right and to help other people.
Of course, doing good things can often cost money and that’s a commodity that can be in short supply.

Tom Yawkey inherited a fortune from his uncle who adopted him and raised him. Among other things, Yawkey owned lumber and iron interests, bought the Boston Red Sox and what is today the 20,000-acre Tom Yawkey Heritage Preserve.

He and his second wife Jean were heavily involved in Boston and New England, but they assuredly left big pieces of their hearts in Georgetown, South Carolina.

The Yawkey Heritage Preserve — North Island, South Island and most of Cat Island — protects miles of coastal South Carolina near Georgetown.

He was a man and she was a woman who helped others, but also believed people should help themselves.
Yawkey donated $100,000 towards the cost of Georgetown Memorial Hospital back in 1949 — but he stipulated that local folks had to raise the rest of the money. They did.

His generosity extended far and wide. Tara Hall Home for Boys in the Rose Hill section of Georgetown County is home to a dozen and up to almost three dozen boys who’ve been in tough situations. The Yawkey Foundation is a major source of funding.
While Yawkey had his shortcomings, he also helped people in amazing ways.

The Yawkey Cancer Center, the Yawkey wing at Georgetown Hospital, the nursing program at Horry-Georgetown Technical College, and many more charitable and philanthropic efforts exist in large part because of Jean and Tom Yawkey.

Eleanor Armstrong was a nurse at Georgetown Hospital and her husband was a surgeon. She continues to serve on the boards of the Yawkey Foundations, long after Tom Yawkey’s death in Boston on July 9, 1976.
“Miss Ellie” and the other trustees work hard to ensure that their generosity continues.

When the Boston Red Sox team was sold in 2002, the proceeds added nearly $400 million to the Foundations.
A just-issued 72-page report tells about many of the emphasis areas of the foundations and its philanthropy.

It’s absolutely amazing to read about the 2,500 grants totaling $316 million to organizations in New England and Georgetown County, South Carolina.

Most folks reading this editorial won’t be able to contribute anywhere near that kind of money.
But, when the steel mill in Georgetown closed about the same time that the Boston Red Sox were sold, the people of Ge-orgetown County led all 46 counties in South Carolina in per capita charitable giving.

Tom and Jean Yawkey and their foundations have done tremendous good. They set the example of sharing their material resources and of being involved in working hard to help others.

Yawkey could be keeping an eye on things as he trims the azaleas around a mansion past the pearly gates.

Bob Joyner, who managed the Yawkey Heritage Preserve for the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, first met Yawkey when he went out to the property in the 1960s. He saw this guy dressed in old, worn but serviceable work clothes who was tending to the azaleas. He seemed like a pretty smart fellow, and Joyner related that if the gardener knew that much then that Yawkey guy he was looking for must really be something.

He was. And Georgetown County is a better place because of that “doing unto others” that Tom and Jean Yawkey practiced in their lives and left as a legacy after they passed on.

We’re humbly grateful.

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