Category: Endowment Development

Hon. Frank H. Hiscock

Photo: Jeanine Anderson turned to Hiscock Legal Aid during a particularly difficult period in her life — after recovering from addiction. Her lawyer helped her gain more visitations with her daughter. “I have my family and I never take  them for granted any more. I have earned my way back to my little girl.”

Judge Frank Harris Hiscock devoted much of his life to practicing law and philanthropy. He had a powerful desire to assist the less fortunate and improve the quality of life in Syracuse and its surrounding areas. His legacy continues to make an impact through the work of Hiscock Legal Aid Society, an organization established by a gift from his will.

In 1855, his father, L. Harris Hiscock — a Surrogate Court judge and state assemblyman — and his uncle, Frank Hiscock — a United States senator — partnered to establish the law firm now known as Barclay Damon, one of the oldest and largest firms in Syracuse.

The younger Frank joined the law firm in 1877. He later served as chief justice of the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. Throughout his career he was an active participant and supporter of his community, including serving as one of the Community Foundation’s founders when it was established in 1927.

He made a provision in his will to donate his home on James Street in Syracuse to the Community Foundation. This well-known property was sold to the Corinthian Club after his death and the proceeds were used to establish the Hiscock Legal Aid Society. The organization opened its offices on South Warren Street in 1949 to provide quality legal assistance free of charge to Onondaga County residents who could not afford to hire private legal counsel.

The organization now serves as a legal advocate for domestic violence victims and offers services to address immigration, family court, civil, appeals, parole revocation and extradition matters. Its 60 attorneys and staff members work tirelessly to provide underserved individuals and families with access to high quality legal counsel. In 2016, the organization handled nearly 4,000 cases.

Thanks to Judge Hiscock’s generosity, the organization continues to enrich the community today, nearly 70 years since his vision was turned into a reality.

“In making the bequest that enabled the creation of the Legal Aid Society, Judge Hiscock put into action the belief that no person should be denied access to justice because of a lack of means,” said Society president & CEO, Linda Gehron.

“I imagine he would be pleased that people like him continue to support our mission to uphold the fundamental human rights that are basic to any democracy.”

Through his thoughtfulness, Judge Hiscock’s commitment to social justice has helped generations of Central New York residents find their voices through the support of legal counsel.


Ruth & Martha Blumberg

Martha Blumberg accomplished great things in her short life — gaining recognition as a promising young artist when she was just 12 years old. She graduated from Jamesville-Dewitt High School in 1979 and attended Yale University for two years. She was an honor student, artist and musician, but she was constrained by a disease that forced her to undergo several organ transplants.

Martha died at the young age of 23, while waiting for what would have been her third kidney transplant. Her death in 1985 was devastating to her parents, Ruth and Sydney Blumberg. Ruth’s life was forever changed by the loss of her only child. Through her grief, Ruth persevered and carried on with her lifelong commitment to many volunteer activities. Ruth wanted something good to happen in the community to honor Martha’s short life.

When she passed away decades later, her will directed a portion of her estate to the Community Foundation to form The Martha Fund. The fund is designed to perpetually support local children’s programs in her daughter’s name. Ruth lived a life of giving back, and her charitable spirit will live on through her bequest to the Community Foundation in memory of Martha.

The Martha Fund honors Martha’s zest for life, and her legacy will be honored through the many programs it will support. Since 2013, the fund has awarded nearly $300,000 in grants to support children’s art programs, health services and learning activities in Central New York. Countless young people in our region will continue to benefit from the generous commitment Ruth made to ensure that her daughter’s memory would not be forgotten.

John F. Marsellus

Photo: Patients of Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital take part in a craft activity with Maggie Zick, child life specialist. In 2004, the Community Foundation awarded the largest community grant in its history at the time, in part from the John F. Marsellus Fund, toward the Upstate Foundation’s capital campaign for the hospital’s construction.

Friends and family of John F. Marsellus remember him as a civic leader who truly loved Central New York. His passion for the community was evident through his continuous involvement in many organizations including being a board member of the Community Foundation, Manufacturers Association of CNY, Everson Museum of Art, Ducks Unlimited, YMCA and a founding member of the Metropolitan Development Association (now CenterState CEO).

Marsellus was the third generation of his family to manage the Marsellus Casket Company in Syracuse. The company, founded by his grandfather in 1872, enjoyed a world-wide reputation for being the leading manufacturer of fine hardwood caskets.

In 1973 he established a donor-advised fund, which for nearly 30 years administered his charitable giving. At the time of his death in 2000, his estate plan included naming the Community Foundation in his will as a major beneficiary. He knew this act of generosity would carry on his charitable giving in perpetuity while, at the same time, increase the funding we could distribute to worthy nonprofit organizations.

Specifically, the John F. Marsellus Fund supports projects that promote education, the arts, centers of learning, recreation, environmental conservation, local children and health care accessibility. Over the past 15 years, it has supported nearly 1,000 local charitable programs.

Additionally, the fund supports and promotes several of our community initiatives including the Marsellus Executive Development Program, which provides leadership enhancement opportunities for nonprofit staff executives.

Marsellus once said, “For the future, I have complete faith in the Foundation’s investment stewardship and that my fund will continue to grow and provide support for important community organizations.”

Just as he did in his daily life, his legacy will continue to enrich the lives of generations of area residents because of his thoughtful planning and commitment to Central New York.