The Callaway Foundation traces its origins to the establishment of the LaGrange Settlement in 1913 and the Textile Benefit Association in 1919. Callaway Sr., an entrepreneur and businessman, organized both organizations using proceeds from the textile mills and businesses he helped to establish in west Georgia and east Alabama beginning in 1888.
From 1913 until its merger with the Textile Benefit Association in 1932, the LaGrange Settlement formalized charitable work already occurring in Callaway's mills and mill villages and offered expanded hospital and medical services to mill workers and families. The Textile Benefit Association further expanded the charitable giving in 1919. Callaway died in 1928, but the work of the two organizations continued.
In 1943 Callaway's son, Fuller E. Callaway Jr., established the Callaway Community Foundation, which assumed the work of the
A board of trustees governs the Callaway Foundation. Although the mandatory retirement age is seventy, board members do not have term limits. A majority of the board members have been part of the Callaway family. H. Speer Burdette III has served as president and general manager of the foundation since January 1, 2003, succeeding J. Thomas Gresham, who served in that position from 1976 to 2002. The general manager acts as a liaison between the board of trustees and the public, investigating all requests for financial assistance from charitable, educational, and religious organizations.
Grant applications may be submitted throughout the year, and proposals are considered at quarterly board meetings. The foundation typically awards grants for one-time capital projects and special projects. Rarely are operational expenses funded.
The LaGrange and Troup County school systems have been other beneficiaries. West Georgia Health System has also received significant foundation support. Since 1937, when it was called City-County Hospital, the system has received grants to buy new equipment, scholarships for nurses, and money for such building projects as the Georgia Heart Clinic and the Enoch Callaway Cancer Clinic.
Other nonprofit groups in Troup County to benefit from Callaway Foundation support include the Troup County Historical Society and Archives, the LaGrange Art Museum, the LaFayette Society for the Performing Arts, and the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra. The Callaway Foundation has made possible many organizations and arts and cultural facilities in LaGrange that are seldom found in cities of similar size.
Community development has been a major goal of the foundation. Much of its work in the late 1990s and early 2000s has been aimed at revitalizing downtown LaGrange. The foundation continues to be a vital force in LaGrange and Troup County.
Alice Hand Callaway and Forrest Clark Johnson III, Family Gleanings: A Collection of History and Heritage (LaGrange, Ga., n.p., 1997).
Waights G. Henry Jr. and Fuller E. Callaway Jr., A Three Dimension Man and Callaway Foundation, Inc. (New York: Newcomen Society, 1979).
Kaye Lanning Minchew, Troup County Archives
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