The Community Foundation - Rochester Area The Community Foundation

One Couple's Wish for Our Community's Future

The relationship between the Community Foundation and Albert and Sybil Craig Jr. went back almost 30 years.

In 1982, the Brighton couple established a fund to benefit the Immunology Unit at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Albert was a UR professor of physiology and pharmacology and a researcher who specialized in the physiology of swimming.

The Craigs started the fund with a gift of 300 shares of Gulf Oil Corp. stock and in later years added to it with other cash, stock and life insurance gifts. A Penfield couple also made regular contributions to the fund, which was eventually renamed in memory of their son. Before the fund was paid out to URMC in 2000, gifts and investment earnings had pushed the fund total over $100,000.

Decades before their deaths, the Craigs made plans to leave money for the good of the community. The Craigs included gifts to the Community Foundation’s general endowment fund in several different versions of their wills, says their lawyer, John D. Witmeyer of Nixon Peabody LLP.

Such unrestricted gifts allow the Community Foundation to address the most critical causes and compelling needs in our region. While less common than contributions for specific purposes, they reflect the core purpose of the Community Foundation to focus on the future of our region.

"Think of the Community Foundation as the Development Department for the community," says Jennifer Leonard, president and executive director. "Just like a university or hospital, our community needs venture capital to support new ideas and emerging needs. The Craigs understood that many years from now, their gifts will address needs we can’t begin to imagine today. That’s the power of unrestricted endowment."

Dr. Craig became involved with the Community Foundation as a member of the Distributions Committee, which reviews grant proposals. When he died in April 2008 at the age of 83, he left $250,000 to the endowment fund.

Mrs. Craig, who taught history at the once-separate Columbia and Allendale schools and with her husband raised four children, died in November 2010 and left $50,000 to the endowment fund. She was 86. Mrs. Craig was active in the community, serving on boards of the United Nations Association USA, Rochester Association for the United Nations, Strong National Museum of Play, Friends of the Brighton Library, Hochstein School of Music & Dance and the former Women’s Career Center (now Career Development Services).

"They definitely cared about the community they lived in," says son Albert B. "Burch" Craig III.

They demonstrated that concern by working with Finger Lakes Land Trust to limit development on 120 acres in Canadice, where they had a summer home for more than three decades. They also supported causes such as United Way, Planned Parenthood, and care of the Louis Kahn building that is home to First Unitarian Church, which Sybil Craig attended and supported for many years.

Burch Craig says the bequests to the Community Foundation for future needs fit his parents’ concern for the community at large. "They felt the Community Foundation would use it wisely."