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About Virden Area Foundation

Historical Profile of the Virden Area Foundation and its Founders


The roots of the Virden Area Foundation can be traced to the early 1950’s when Murray and Jean Thomas came to Virden and purchased the Pontiac Buick dealership. Over the years they also made many successful real estate investments in Virden and elsewhere. Throughout the years Murray and Jean were active members of the community. In 1974 Murray Thomas passed away at the age of 55 years, and Jean passed away in 1988. They had no children.

Shortly after Jean’s death, the Council of the Town of Virden was advised that Mrs. Thomas had bequeathed her substantial estate of approximately $600,000 to the Town with the direction that it “be used for a suitable community project or purpose of a long or lasting nature, which can be designated as a memorial to my late husband (Murray F. Thomas) as the Council of the Town shall decide”.

After a year of deliberation, the Council established the Thomas Fund Board with a mandate to make recommendations for the distribution of the estate’s earnings and the expenditure of the capital funds on a suitable major project. In the spring of 1991 and 1992, the Thomas Fund Board issued grants totaling $174,025 to 56 worthwhile projects in the Virden community while the capital fund remained completely intact.

The task of choosing a suitable major project on which to use the estate funds was indeed monumental. After receiving advice and guidance from the Winnipeg and Killarney Foundations it became clear to the Thomas Fund Board that the formation of a community foundation to be known as the Virden Area Foundation, and the use of the Thomas Estate as its founding fund would be a most suitable purpose.

On July 17, 1990 the Council of the Town of Virden unanimously approved this recommendation and the estate funds were transferred in July of 1992 once the Virden Area Foundation’s administrative infrastructure was in place, the Foundation went on to make its first grants in 1993.

Clearly the founding of the Virden Area Foundation with the Thomas Estate funds has resulted in a long lasting memorial to Murray and Jean Thomas. The generous bequest to the community will be held buy the Foundation and generate funds to meet community needs in perpetuity.

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