Chillicothe natives share the gift of education

Larry and Mary GatesThrough much of their lives, Larry Gates and his wife, Mary, travelled and lived abroad pursuing his career in international management, opportunities they largely attribute to higher education. Throughout their travels, they never lost their focus on their hometown of Chillicothe and Ross County. Accordingly, when the Chillicothe natives returned home to retire after living abroad, the couple became deeply involved with the community, including Ohio University’s Chillicothe Campus (OUC), with Larry Gates serving as chairman of the Regional Coordinating Council at OUC and on the board of directors for The Ohio University Foundation. From their experiences, they realized the immense competition college graduates face not only locally, but on an international level as well, and they were determined to help their community members meet that challenge. “Ross County residents have the talent and work ethic to become leaders in their fields, but to successfully compete in today’s job market, it is essential to have a college degree. I know what an education helped me do,” Larry Gates says. “I realize without it I would not have had the opportunities that I had. It’s so important that education is available to anybody that really has a desire to get one.”

“The competition is very significant, the challenges are very significant,” Larry Gates says. “We felt the need to do our best and try to share that concern and at least help our students or give them a boost towards higher education.” In that spirit, the couple established the Gates Foundation-Ross County Scholar’s Fund in 2004, providing scholarships to Ross County students. Students can choose to receive that education at Ohio University or any other college or university. This life-changing support has and will continue to shape the futures of Ross County students. Since the fund’s creation, approximately 265 grants have been given to eligible students. The couple chose to establish a donor advised fund. Traditionally, donor advised funds are a great way to involve family members in the decisionmaking process while supporting OHIO and other charities. The Gates decided on a donor advised fund with Ohio University because of “the quality of the resources that were available” in addition to working with experienced professionals to guide the gift-giving process. “The support was there from the very beginning. On an annual basis we work closely with Ohio University,” Larry Gates says. “This made it easy for us to do and probably impossible for us to do this without a donor advised fund.” Ultimately, creating the fund and watching it change lives year after year has brought great joy to the Gates’ lives. “It all comes back to students who have taken our grants and succeeded with them,” Larry Gates says. “The experience of meeting them and their families is really what it’s all about.”