Cruso Endowment to support Haywood County for generations to come

Haywood County has a new permanent $2 million asset to support the local community thanks to the generosity of a local couple. The Cruso Endowment was recently established from the estate of Irene and David Smathers to provide permanent funding for nonprofit programs and projects in the area.

Irene and David left behind the Endowment following a lifetime of quiet charitable giving and support for many local nonprofit causes. “When the Endowment was announced, nobody could believe it,” said Doris Hall, Irene’s sister and advisor to the Endowment. “They never wanted public recognition or praise for the causes they gave to because that’s not why they gave. They just wanted to help people.”

Irene and David’s lifelong legacy of generosity and love for their community is now forever cemented in Haywood County for generations to come through the Cruso Endowment.

Named for the eastern part of Haywood County where they shared many happy memories from the early days of their marriage, the Endowment supports nonprofit programs in the community, especially the Town of Canton.

“The Cruso Endowment is consistent with what they’ve done through their lives,” said Pat Smathers, Irene and David’s estate attorney, and advisor to the Endowment. “They were community minded people who knew they could help in some way and didn’t do it for the publicity but simply for the good of doing it.”

Irene and David first began investing charitably decades ago, spending years identifying local organizations and needs, especially children’s causes, to support. They knew they wanted their support for the local community to continue long after them.

“They were modest people that no one knew had accumulated wealth,” said Pat Smathers. “They wanted to ensure their money went to things they knew they could help that would make a better quality of life for the people here locally.”

Hall remembers the same charitable spirit of her sister and brother in-law. “They were the type of people who would anonymously pay for prom dresses for local children who couldn’t afford them,” she said. “I hope people know how truly wonderful they were, not just because she’s my sister, but because that’s just the people they were.”

The local community will know of their generosity and kindness in perpetuity. The Cruso Endowment has already funded local projects including a community garden and area heritage festival and will continue to support nonprofit projects and programs as the fund continues to grow through the years.

“It gave Irene a real peace knowing that somebody, somewhere was going to benefit,” Hall said. “She knew the money would be used the right way and that their legacy would be helping people.”

Katie Crumpler, NCCF’s regional director for the west, echoed Hall’s sentiments on Irene and David. “They were such special people,” she said. “They had a deep love for their community in Haywood County and made this exceptional fund to ensure it will be supported well into the future.”

The Cruso Endowment was created with NCCF’s family of funds in Haywood County last year as a part of the execution of Irene and David’s estate. The Endowment is already granting to local nonprofits and will continue to grow to ensure support for generations to come.

NCCF is honored to play a part in stewarding Irene and David’s legacy, according to Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, NCCF CEO and president. “The Cruso Endowment is going to have a tremendous impact for good,” she said. “We’re forever inspired by Irene and David’s vision, generosity and commitment to their local community.”