Conklin bequest is largest gift to the Wabash Valley Community Foundation

The Wabash Valley Community Foundation has received its largest single gift ever, an amount in excess of $1.2 million from the estate of Clarabelle Conklin.

Mrs. Conklin, who passed away in January 2005, left the Community Foundation 60 percent of her estate, more than $1.2 million, to be added to the Dr. and Mrs. James Conklin Scholarship Fund. That fund has been in existence since 1995.

“The whole community is the beneficiary of this extremely generous bequest,” said Beth Tevlin, Community Foundation executive director. “Dr. and Mrs. Conklin have made possible a major scholarship fund that will benefit Vigo County youth forever.”

Tevlin said the Conklin Fund provides one or more scholarships to Vigo County students pursuing a post-secondary education. If possible, Mrs. Conklin asked that, if all other factors were equal, preference be given to “students desiring to become a doctor or specializing in piano.” She explained that Dr. Conklin was an accomplished pianist as well as a respected physician at Terre Haute Regional Hospital for many years.

Dr. Benny Ko of Indianapolis, a family friend and colleague of Dr. Conklin, said that after returning from service in World War II, the Paris, Illinois native joined the practice of long-time Terre Haute physician, Dr. Jung. His area of expertise was thyroid disease and surgery. “Dr. Conklin served the community diligently and loyally,” Dr. Ko said, “and his excellent skill and kind demeanor are still fondly remembered among the older patients and physicians of the Wabash Valley.”

Dr. and Mrs. Conklin met during the war in her home state of Washington, where she was a model for I. Magnum. They made their home in Terre Haute in Edgewood Grove. Dr. Ko said the couple, who had no children of their own, were very generous and were most enthused with helping and encouraging young people get a good education.

Tevlin credits Mrs. Conklin’s CPA Ron Strange and attorney Steve Trueblood in helping her create this legacy in the Community Foundation. Her long-time neighbor and friend Mary Levite said it was Mrs. Conklin’s desire to leave something to the community that would benefit young people.

Dr. Ko said of Dr. Conklin, “His generosity is legendary, and he treated people as people, regardless of race, religion or creed. In that regard, he was truly a man who was ahead of his time…a model to inspire us for a long time to come.”

Tevlin said students interested in applying for the Conklin scholarship or any of the Community Foundation’s more than 50 scholarships for Clay, Sullivan or Vigo county students can obtain an application from their school counselor or print one from the Community Foundation’s web site, Applications are due on December 15, 2006.