Reflection: Zane Blevins, A Blessing to Our Community

May 8, 2017 2:17 pm Published by

Last Christmas, John Randolph Foundation hosted a small lunch for our trustees, past and present. I can’t tell you how glad I am that we did. It was the last event (of many JRF events) that Zane Blevins attended. I can still see him and Eunice standing together, tenderly holding hands as Jerry Williams said the blessing over our meal. I’ve served JRF for 17 years, mostly as executive director, and I speak for many friends of the Foundation when I say that we will miss him dearly.

Eunice Blevins, Tom Blount, Onza Hyatt, and Zane Blevins at the Foundation last Christmas. Tom, Onza, and Zane served together as founding trustees.

As news of Zane’s passing made its way into the community, I found myself reminiscing over what he meant to us. I poured through archives and came across a cream-colored binder, “Building On A Legacy 1995-1997.” It was a summary of the Foundations first two years as a community foundation. I smiled as I read an article from The Progress-Index describing Zane as the “leader of the pack” among our founding trustees, including Dr. Gurpal Bhuller, Stephen Bingham, Tom Blount, Allen Flannagan, Jr., Onza Hyatt, and Bishop Knott, Jr.

Zane Blevins was president of John Randolph Foundation from May of 1995 until January of 1998. He led a visionary group of community leaders and laid the foundation for the organization we are today.

This visionary group wrote our by-laws, crafted our first policy and procedure manual, developed our grant process, laid the groundwork for our scholarship program, and reached out to the community to gain their financial support.

Under Zane’s leadership, the board of trustees met once or sometimes twice a week, unravelling legal and financial issues connected with the sale of John Randolph Hospital. They charted the path for our investment policies which have enabled us to give $17 million in grants to nonprofit organizations like the Hopewell-Prince George Community Health Center.

Zane speaking at a Foundation event in the Ashford Civic Plaza in downtown Hopewell.

Zane was active in so many charitable endeavors – the Salvation Army, Boy Scouts, First Baptist Church, John Randolph Hospital Authority, and of course John Randolph Foundation. He led a life of humility, kindness, and service to others.

During a celebration of Zane’s life, I was touched to learn how his early life experiences molded this life of service. Zane was the oldest of six kids. His father died when he was only 14 years old, and as you can imagine, it caused grave financial hardship for their family. Zane worked at the Ashe County Cheese Factory as a teenager to help with the bills. At the age of 17, he joined the United States Navy, sending most of his paycheck back home.

Zane was a blessing to his family, to the Foundation, and to our entire community. Although he’s no longer here with us, his commitment to serving others will live on through the John Randolph Foundation. I am privileged to have known him, and our community will be forever indebted to him.

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This post was written by AJ James

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