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The Thorpes

William and Mary Thorpe were born in Herkimer, NY and grew up on their parents’ farm on a hill just west of the Village of Camillus. After graduating from Camillus High School, William went on to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II. Upon his return to the Syracuse area, he became a well-known sports broadcaster for WFBL radio and rubbed elbows with many of the sports celebrities of the time. William died of cancer in 1969.

His sister Mary also graduated from Camillus High School, and soon thereafter began a career that spanned nearly 50 years at Bristol Laboratories in Syracuse. Although the industry was dominated by men, Mary’s strong independence
and drive established her as a key purchasing agent at Bristol for many decades. After living her entire life at the family’s Camillus farmstead, Mary passed away in 2010, leaving a legacy for charitable purposes.

Although she had no formal higher education, Mary was a strong believer that educational opportunity is the path to progress in today’s world. Her estate was used to create a fund with the primary purpose of aiding the educational aspirations of Central New York residents. The co-trustees of the William & Mary Thorpe Charitable Fund opted to house the fund as a component of the Community Foundation rather than to retain it as a private foundation.

In keeping with Mary’s desire to support education, the trustees’ first allocation from the fund established a scholarship through the Say Yes to Education Syracuse endowment. Bolstered by a generous corporate match from SRC, Inc., the William & Mary Thorpe Say Yes Scholarship Fund will provide a $250,000 permanent endowment for students in the Say Yes program.

Say Yes to Education, Inc. is a national non-profit education foundation committed to increasing high school and college graduation rates among inner-city youth. The cornerstone of the Syracuse chapter is the commitment to provide college scholarships for every eligible student graduating from the Syracuse City School District. Since 2009, nearly 2,000 students have enrolled in two- and four-year colleges due to scholarships like the one made possible through the generosity of Mary Thorpe.

Although Mary and William are not here to watch those students cross the stage to receive diplomas, the scholarship that bears their name will honor their dedication to the community for years to come, and touch more lives than perhaps even they could have imagined.

If you're interested in opening a unrestricted fund, learn more here.