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.