Donald Trufant never attended college, but he considered himself a life-long learner, believing that education was the way towards a fulfilling and prosperous life. Now, an endless number of students from Don’s hometown will have the opportunity to advance their education thanks to his foresight and giving nature.
When Don passed away earlier this year at the age of 83, his will directed his estate almost entirely to charity, in large part to augment the Trufant Family Scholarship Fund. The resulting $3 million fund will award $20,000 and $40,000 scholarships each year to graduating seniors of both Union Springs and Auburn high schools. Scholarship selection committees at each school will choose the recipients, based on Don’s criteria that he or she perceives a challenge as an opportunity for success and falls within the top 20 percent of his or her class.
Don grew up on a dairy farm in the Finger Lakes region, graduating from Union Springs High School in 1950 before entering the Air Force and serving in the Korean War. He went on to work in the banking industry, most recently serving as Executive Vice President at Mercantile-Safe Deposit & Trust in Baltimore. His family did not come from wealth; Don’s hard work and determination helped him develop a successful career that allowed him to be philanthropic.
Don’s long-time friend and lawyer, Cela Burge, described him as incredibly honest, generous and unassuming.
“He was a generous, thoughtful man,” she said. “If he saw an opportunity to be kind and generous for someone or an organization serving a great purpose, he would do it.”
Although he lived on the Eastern Shore of Virginia for many years, Don never forgot Central New York, the place of his roots. He visited often and continued to support causes in the region that were important to him and his family members. Don’s investment in our local students is a testament to his giving spirit and desire to challenge young people to strive for their best.
“Don thought education was important, so he put his heart and soul into it,” said Cela. “He thought being kind and generous was important, so that is how his actions followed. Those things that were so part of the fiber of his being will continue well past his life through this scholarship fund. I hope he is never forgotten.”