By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
By all accounts, the late Richard Siegel was a simple man.
Those who knew him say the lifelong Rutherford County farmer, who passed away January 2, 1998, would have never imagined the Richard Siegel Foundation would become what it is today.
The foundation recently approved scholarships totaling $75,000 for Rutherford County graduates and $110,602.50 for grant requests benefiting Rutherford County Schools with $67,852.50 going directly to the schools and the remaining $42,750 for organizations that benefit students.
Set up upon his death, the foundation was “organized exclusively for charitable, educational, literary and scientific purposes … and specifically to (1) improve the overall quality of public education in the City of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, Tennessee by increasing community involvement in public education, encouraging imaginative and creative approaches to educating public school students, stimulating optimism in teachers and inspiration in students, generating energy and enthusiasm within the community in support of the public schools; (2) providing college scholarships to graduates of the public high schools in the City of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, Tennessee; (3) promoting development of young people and families through recreation in the City of Murfreesboro, such as development of city parks like those planned on land donated or devised to the city by Richard Siegel, Children’s Discovery House, The Boys and Girls Club, and the like,” according to the foundation’s charter.
Siegel was described as a diligent farmer who valued those who worked hard to achieve their goals, according to Josh Markham, the former mission’s director for First United Methodist Church and staff facilitator for the foundation’s trustees committee.
More importantly, Markham said Siegel “believed that education and recreation were vital for kids to succeed.”
Upon his death, Siegel gifted undeveloped farmland along Thompson through his will for the building of Siegel middle and high schools, First United Methodist and Erma Siegel Elementary. The middle school was opened in 2001 and the high school followed two years later in 2003.
The foundation accepts applications for scholarships and grants for educational related activities each year.
Siegel is quoted in the charter, “It is my desire that the Trustees in their collective wisdom use the earnings as they deem best for the long-term goals and purposes.”
This year’s list of schools that will directly benefit from the $67,852.50 in grant money includes:
Rock Springs Elementary
Rock Springs Middle
Rutherford County Schools’ clothing fund
Stewarts Creek High