Our community lost a friend recently with the death of a retired educator, farmer and family man from the Brownstown area.
Orville Lubker Jr. died Aug. 8 at the age of 86. The Brownstown native and his wife, Laura Rose Burcham Lubker, lived just east of Brownstown off U.S. 50, their charming house tucked in behind the commercial building that once housed their produce market, where many of us bought their watermelon, muskmelon, sweet corn and tomatoes for many summers.
While working with Laura at Lubker Farm Market each summer, Orville enjoyed talking with customers and sharing his knowledge about the melons the family raised on their sandy soils.
A conversation with him about 30 years ago led me to annually search for what he called “pepper” on the yellow bellies of watermelons. In his soft-spoken way, Orville virtually promised that a seeded watermelon with those sprinkles of pepper would be ripe. I never found a peppered one that wasn’t. Those tiny black spots are actually a type of fungus that apparently only grows on a melon once it’s ripe, he said.
Don’t look for them, however, on seedless melons. Orville informed me of that this past winter.
Sharing that knowledge took place during a conversation when the Lubkers paid us a visit here at the offices of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. Laura called one December afternoon to say they wanted to talk with us. So a meeting was scheduled.
Orville and Laura said they had each been thinking about the desire to give back to their community, one that supported their children with a good education, a community that supported Orville with a career as a teacher and guidance counselor, a community that supported their farm market.
The foundation’s annual holiday gift guide caused them to think deeper about that desire, and the idea of a scholarship blossomed like a watermelon on the vine.
Years ago, Orville had served on the foundation’s scholarship committee, a group comprised of members of our board of directors and community volunteers. Creating a scholarship fund here is what the Lubkers had in mind, and that’s just what they did.
They endowed the fund with gifts planned over a period of three years with the plan of perhaps increasing it in the years ahead. They wanted the recipient to be a Brownstown Central High School senior planning to study at Purdue University, where Orville received his undergraduate degree.
The first recipient of the Orville and Laura Lubker Purdue University Scholarship Fund will be chosen next spring.
Although it’s regrettable Orville won’t be able to participate in that selection process or to see the first scholarship awarded on honors day next May, Orville had the satisfaction of knowing he and Laura took the steps to put the scholarship fund into place, of knowing their generosity will benefit our community for decades to come.
If you and your family have been considering a way to honor loved ones by giving back to the community they called home, the foundation can help you through a variety of means. Establishing a scholarship is one way. Creating a donor advised or designated fund to assist your favored charities or church is another. Donating to the foundation’s unrestricted funds — or creating a new, named unrestricted fund — is still another.
Contact me at the office and, like the Lubkers and so many others before them, we can set up a time to talk about what you want to accomplish with your giving and help you find a way of meeting those desires while helping others year after year.
Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County. The foundation administers more than 140 funds with assets of more than $10 million. For information about how you can make a donation to any of the funds administered by the foundation or how you mig
ht start a new fund, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.