The business of family legacy
For Marilyn Meyers Buckey, success is the product of smart succession, both in business and philanthropy.
Through her family's funds at Akron Community Foundation, Marilyn and her daughters have assumed their forefathers' tradition of working hard, giving back and passing it on.
Marilyn's father, Robert A. Meyers, came from a line of hard-working men. He succeeded Marilyn's grandfather, George, as president of the family business, The W.E. Wright Company. Under Robert's leadership, the building supply company expanded to 10 retail locations.
Marilyn's dad provided well for the family, but he also wanted to provide for his community. "He had worked so hard all of his life, but he felt like he had not given enough," Marilyn said. "He wanted to make sure he had something in place to give back to the community and give thanks."
For years, Robert and his wife, Jean, had volunteered with Akron Rotary, Bluecoats, the Akron General Women's Board and many other local charities. But, like the family business, they wanted to create something lasting that they could hand down from generation to generation. "Legacy was important to them, so Dad considered starting a private foundation, but he didn't want the hassle of the administration. He just wanted the joy of giving," she said. The investments, legal due diligence, tax filing — he didn't want his family to have to manage that someday.
Instead, he started the Robert A. and Jean C. Meyers Family Fund at Akron Community Foundation. Today, Marilyn recommends grants to causes her parents loved during their lifetime, particularly education. "I can support causes both locally and across the country in their name," she said. "But, unlike a private foundation, I'm not penalized if I don't pay out 5 percent every year. I can make a few small grants one year and save up for a highimpact grant the next year. It's the perfect solution."
Like her parents, Marilyn is passionate about leaving a charitable legacy in her family's name. In 2013, she started the Marilyn Meyers Buckey Family Fund, which will engage her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in philanthropy.
"My children may not be getting direct money from (the fund), but they're getting the benefit of giving back, both to programs that are their passions, and also to ones I love," she said. In doing so, Marilyn said it keeps them close to her, each other and their roots.