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Catoosa Organization Acting in Disaster chairman Phil Ledbetter and COAD case worker Donna Greeson flank Frank Pierce Foundation trustees Steve Tarvin, center left, and Wayne Peters when the foundation recently presented COAD with a $25,000 donation. Photo by Mike O'Neal

In death, as in life, Frank Pierce has been a powerful force in Walker County and all Northwest Georgia.

During a lifetime that spanned about 80 years, this Chickamauga native accomplished many things. Among them was serving as mayor for nearly half a century; owning Crystal Springs Print Works, one of the area's largest employers; assembling a museum-quality automobile collection; and restoring Lee & Gordon Mill.

Now, a decade after his death, his influence on the community continues through the philanthropic foundation that bears his name.

"Frank made gifts throughout his lifetime, but the bulk of his giving was directed through this foundation," said Wayne Peters, senior partner with the firm Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon PLLC and co-trustee of the Pierce Foundation. "It [the foundation] is broadly established to support educational and charitable activities in the North Georgia area."

The foundation's largess has provided computers and other gifts to Chickamauga Public Schools and aided programs at Oakwood Christian Academy. The foundation also has been recognized by the Alfred E. Shorter Society for its support of Shorter College.

"Before he passed away, Frank said that what he most wanted was to support was education," foundation co-trustee Steve Tarvin said. "The future of the foundation is to help the community."

Tarvin, who is president and CEO of Crystal Springs Print Works, said it was that goal of helping the community that led to sizable donations after tornados ripped into the area last April.

"We see it as a way to help in emergencies," he said.

A $50,000 check was presented to the Ringgold High School athletic and band programs immediately following those storms. Recently, $25,000 was awarded COAD (Catoosa Organization Acting in Disaster) to help that organization's efforts to help the uninsured and underinsured rebuild their homes.

Peters said the foundation tries to help in a variety of ways that are consistent with its namesake's interests and willingness to improve his community.

The 6th Cavalry Museum and the Friends of Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park have benefited from Pierce's legacy as has the city of Chickamauga.

"The foundation owns the Lee & Gordon Mill and leases it to the city for an annual lease of $10," Peters said. "Frank put his heart into rebuilding that mill and we are delighted to make it available to the community. It is a way of sharing."