Generosity rewarded

Generosity rewarded

Professional fundraisers honoring PlayCore, Petty and Smiths

October 24th, 2009 by Susan Pierce in Life Entertainment

Three longtime Chattanooga philanthropists and a business fairly new to town will be honored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for their exemplary practices at the National Philanthropy Day Awards on Nov. 4.

Frances and Gordon Smith will be named Philanthropists of the Year, Ward Petty will receive the Leadership Fundraiser Award and PlayCore will be named Corporate Philanthropist of the Year.

"This event has been taking place since 1987 when we started naming an outstanding philanthropist," said Dan Bowers, president of Chattanooga's chapter of AFP.

Mr. Bowers said in 1990, the chapter expanded its awards to the current three. He said the honorees are recognized for their "breadth and depth of activity over a sustained period of time."

"The Smiths are known for being involved in many organizations and for their generosity over a long period of time," Mr. Bowers said. "PlayCore has established quite a track record of being generous in the community. Ward Petty has been active with numerous organizations."

Ward Petty

A former president of McCallie School's Alumni Council, Mr. Petty is a member of its board of trustees and twice chaired the school's annual Sustaining Fund. He also chaired the annual fund of Lookout Mountain Elementary school.

He is a past president of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Alumni Board and former member of the UC Foundation. He is a co-founder and former board member of Make-A-Wish Foundation of East Tennessee/North Georgia. He is treasurer of the Memorial HealthCare Foundation.

He currently serves on the boards of WTCI and Siskin Children's Institute and previously served on the boards of Creative Discovery Museum, Bethel Bible Village, American Red Cross and Partnership for Families, Children and Adults. He and wife Nancy co-chaired StarNight 2007.


This manufacturer and marketer of playground and park equipment located its corporate headquarters in Chattanooga eight years ago. The company values improving quality of life where employees live, work and play. To this end it sponsors an annual Community Day of Caring, with service project ideas submitted and selected by employees.

"We do this across the company in each of our seven locations," said Lisa Moore, vice president of corporate strategic services at PlayCore. "Our employees are very active in the community and they know where there are needs."

Ms. Moore said last year PlayCore employees cleaned an area of property at the Chambliss Home/Children's Shelter and planted a garden for the children. Prior to that they partnered with North River Rotary Club to install a playground at Rivermont Elementary. They've also partnered with the Junior League of Chattanooga and Highland Park Neighborhood Association to install a playground at Shaw Park.

The company matches employee-giving programs to Chambliss Home/Children's Shelter, Creative Discovery Museum, Ronald McDonald House and Siskin Children's Institute.

Frances and Gordon Smith

"Rarely does a capital campaign or community initiative take place without a significant contribution from this couple," said AFP organizers.

Mrs. Smith served on Girls Preparatory School's board for 26 years, chairing it from 1978 to 1981. She also served on the boards of the UC Foundation, Metropolitan Council for Community Service, Baroness Foundation of Erlanger Medical Center, and the American Red Cross. She is a past president of the Junior League of Chattanooga.

Mr. Smith retired in 1994 from North American Royalties, where he was vice-president of planning. He is a past president of the Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club.

He is a past chairman of the McCallie School Board of Trustees. He was on the board of the Boys and Girls Club for many years and was inducted into the Boys and Girls Keystone Society in 2006. A member of the hospital authority of Erlanger Medical Center, he has remained active with T.C. Thompson Children's Hospital and the YMCA.

The Smiths, who have been married 58 years, have three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Chris Smith, daughter-in-law of the honorees, said their legacy of giving has been passed through the family's generations.

"Tripp (the Smith's son) grew up in an atmosphere of giving shown by his grandparents and parents. It was not an expectation, but something they did without even thinking because of the example the Smiths set for them when they were growing up," said Mrs. Smith. "When I married into this family it became a way of life for me and our children."

If You Go

* What: National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon.

* When: 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4.

* Where: Chattanooga Convention Center.

* Tickets: $40 per person, $400 table of eight.

* Reservation deadline: Thursday by 5 p.m.

* Phone: 648-1707.