Hanover woman leaves behind $1.6M church fund

Sean Philip Cotter
  • A Hanover woman set aside $1.6 million to start a foundation for an area church.
  • The fund will give the church about $72,000 annually to start off.

When Caroline John died, she left behind a fund that will give about $72,000 a year to her Hanover church "for as long as the Earth rotates."

The 95-year-old librarian, who died in October 2014, was a "lifelong" member of Emmanuel United Church of Christ at 124 Broadway.

And she wanted to stay with it after she died, so her lawyer, Steven McKonly, suggested she set up a fund through the York County Community Foundation. She did — taking $1.6 million to create the Caroline and Adolph John Fund, named after her and her husband.

Caroline John

"This is a nice, large chunk of money," said Patricia Azriel, the foundation's communications director.

The foundation, which is based out of 14 W. Market St. in York City, operates 500 such funds, said Bryan Tate, the foundation's vice president and chief development officer. The organization invests the endowments so they grow over time and slices 4.5 percent off of each every year to go to the organization it supports.

That percentage of $1.6 million ends up around $72,000; that much money — and eventually more, as long as the way it's invested continues to help the endowment grow — will go to the church's operating fund every year.

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"That’s an amazing gift, isn’t it?" Tate said.

Tate said the Rev. Russell D. Clark, the church's new pastor, was happy to hear that the church had had such a lasting effect on someone.

"Oh, he was thrilled," Tate said.

No one from the church could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Caroline John: The donor was born Caroline Fitz in Hanover in 1919, according to her obituary, which ran in the Hanover Evening Sun in October 2014. In 1941, she graduated from Wilson College in Chambersburg before receiving her master's in library science from Drexel Institute of Technology — which is now Drexel University — in Philadelphia.

She bounced around from library to library for a few years, starting in Hanover before moving through Chardon, Ohio, and the naval base in Norfolk, Virginia, before landing on Long Island, New York, where she spent most of her career in Valley Stream and then Amityville.

She retired in 1983 and married Adolph John when she was 68; he passed away in 2009, according to the obituary. They had moved back to Hanover in 1987.

She was a member of Zonta International, a service organization for professional women, for more than 50 years, her obituary states.

"She was a trailblazer, sitting in boardrooms of men, telling them how to make community libraries," Tate said.

— Reach Sean Cotter or on Twitter at@SPCotterYD.