September 06, 2021

Charity Begins at Home: Mary and Harry LeFever Family Fund

Children in Delaware County are enjoying opportunities they wouldn’t have had without the generosity of Mary LeFever.

“I am grateful that I have three daughters who want to support my wishes and continue my legacy. With our donor-advised fund, our family can support other families who haven’t been blessed with the same opportunities as my family.”

Mary LeFever has lived in Delaware County all her life. She and her husband, Harry, who were both teachers, lived on a modest income. After attending a workshop about Maria Montessori and her approach to education, Mary was inspired to establish The Walden School, which opened in 1967 and continues to serve students from pre-school through grade 8 in its current location on Providence Road in Media. Mary was supported in her efforts by a friend who believed in her vision and shared her philanthropic spirit.

Mary has always felt that charity begins at home and is devoted to giving back to Delaware County where she can see how her favorite charities are having an impact. Approaching her 90th birthday, Mary recently decided it was time to involve her three daughters — Denyse, Michele and Colette — in planning her legacy and passing her generous spirit on to her children and grandchildren.

Discussions first focused on establishing a family foundation. However, after some thorough research, Mary and her daughters decided that starting a fund at a community foundation would be the best option for their family, leaving legal and administrative tasks to the foundation. When Mary and her daughter Michele learned about the foundation, they knew it would be the ideal partner to fulfill Mary’s philanthropic goals and dreams now and in the future. Mary decided to establish a donor-advised fund to support the causes most important to her, including the longevity of the Walden School, Delaware County Community College where Harry worked, the Alzheimer’s Association (Harry passed from Alzheimer’s in 2008), Untours Foundation and more.