Francine Bowman's Legacy

A Lesson in Honoring Donor Intent

If you walk past the Asheville Community Theatre’s Blomberg building or you stroll through the WNC Nature Center, you may notice signs acknowleding  CFWNC’s Francine Bowman Endowment Fund, among others.  

Francine Bowman

So just who was Francine Bowman and how is it that more than fifteen years after her death, her legacy to her community continues to make meaningful improvements?  She was a generous philanthropist and sister, a lover of the arts and environment and someone who planned for the future. 

Bowman worked for the U.S. Foreign Service in 11 different countries.  Beginning in her early twenties, she traveled the world experiencing countries and cultures.  She chose to retire to Asheville, drawn by the scenic beauty and the colleges and universities that could support her quest for life-long learning.  A five-time cancer survivor, she made arrangements to ensure that her life savings would be spent as she wished. 

When Bowman visited the Foundation in 1995 to see if this was a place for her legacy to be carried out, she met with then President Pat Smith who talked with her about her goals and plans.  After learning about how CFWNC works, she chose to use her assets to care for her sister through a charitable gift annuity and to support interests developed over her lifetime by creating a charitable fund at CFWNC.  

These interests included: protecting scenic views of the Blue Ridge Parkway; providing for parks and greenways; medical assistance for low-income seniors; economic programs for women; and finding new ways to protect animals.  And, over the years, her Fund has supported important forest planning work, job training programs for women, adult day care, cultural heritage programs, preservation of mountain landscapes and even a mobile app to help visitors navigate Pisgah National Forest. Philip Belcher, vice president of programs, praised “the remarkable foresight Francine Bowman exhibited by providing broad guidelines for using her charitable dollars—even suggesting, but not mandating, specific examples to guide Foundation staff.” 

For more than a decade, CFWNC has had the honor of carrying out her wishes by making grants to deserving projects and nonprofits in our community.  Adhering to donor intent is just one way that the Foundation serves fundholders during their lifetimes and beyond.  As we fulfill Francine Bowman’s philanthropic vision, it is an honor to remember her and to remind the community of her generosity.

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