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Private family foundation partnerships: Jean P. Wade Fund

Four people smiling in front of the ocean
The O'Neil Family

When local entrepreneur and art connoisseur Rory O'Neil passed away unexpectedly in October 2020, his wife of 52 years, Dedee, was left with "a lot of loose ends" to tie up. One of those loose ends was the private family foundation Rory and Dedee had been administering since the early 1990s.

The Jean P. Wade Foundation, named in memory of Rory's mother, Jeannie, has supported some of the family's favorite causes for nearly 30 years. The foundation's small but impactful grants were awarded to organizations throughout Summit and Medina counties, including Archbishop Hoban High School, the Akron Art Museum, Habitat for Humanity of Medina County, the Pediatric Palliative Care Center at Akron Children's Hospital, and more.

To simplify the administration of their small family foundation, Rory and Dedee had talked about transferring the assets into a donor-advised fund at Akron Community Foundation. Dedee, a longtime member and former treasurer of the Akron Garden Club, had seen how the organization's endowment fund at Akron Community Foundation had flourished over the years. But because of Rory's health issues, the conversion didn't happen until after his death, when Dedee decided to move forward with establishing a donor-advised fund as part of her own estate plans.

After navigating the many legal hassles associated with transferring control of the foundation, Dedee wanted to ensure it would one day pass seamlessly to their two adult daughters, Shannon and Megan.

"I was convinced this was a wonderful solution – our daughters would not have to deal with investment decisions or any legal forms," Dedee said. "For now, the three of us can decide which organizations to donate to… and when I die, decisions on donations will transfer without fuss to our daughters. It's a win-win for us."

Did You Know?

Much like a private foundation, donor-advised funds can be named in honor of a person or family, and all future grants will be made in their name, continuing their legacy in perpetuity. Future generations of family members can serve as advisors to the fund and make grant recommendations to causes here in Greater Akron or across the country. Private foundations that partner with Akron Community Foundation also receive complimentary services through our Center for Family Philanthropy, including multigenerational family meeting facilitation, grantmaking support, and more.

The Jean P. Wade Fund of Akron Community Foundation was officially established in June 2021, with Dedee serving as the primary advisor to the fund, and her daughters serving as secondary advisors. Just like the original private foundation, this donor-advised fund will carry on Jeannie's and Rory's legacy of giving back to the community and continue to support many of their favorite causes, including the arts and education.

The fund will also help Dedee involve her daughters in her philanthropy and keep Shannon and Megan connected to their Northeast Ohio roots as they build their lives in New York City and San Francisco.

"My goal is that most of the (grants) will continue to go to organizations in the Summit/Medina area, but gradually Shannon and Megan will choose some that are important to them," Dedee said. "As children, they watched as Rory and I were involved with various charitable groups. They grew up aware that both of us volunteered time and energy. Now as adults, I'm glad to see that both of them, busy as they are, find a little time to volunteer."

Dedee herself is a strong advocate for environmental conservation efforts, with a long history of supporting the park districts in both Summit and Medina counties. She plans to continue that support and share her passion for philanthropy with the next generation through her fund at Akron Community Foundation.

"I am delighted that this has been accomplished," Dedee said. "This small fund will now have ACF's team of investment advisors, I won't have to worry about timely filings with the various government entities, and it will transfer smoothly to the next generation to continue making grants."

For more information about the services Akron Community Foundation offers to private family foundations, contact Laura Lederer at 330-436-5611 or We're always available to answer your questions about philanthropy or to schedule a personal consultation with you and your clients – all at no cost.

Additional Resources

This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.

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