WINGHAM, ONT. -- Lee and Thora Vance were institutions on Wingham’s Main Street from 1955-1998, running Vance’s Pharmacy and living above the store, and their impact is still being felt.

“If you needed medication after hours or on a holiday, you could come down here, ring the doorbell, and they’d be right down to fill your prescription. They were just the nicest people you’d ever want to meet,” says Wingham Business Improvement Association Chair Dave Tiffin.

Even though the Vances have passed on, Lee in 2006 and Thora in 2019, they’re continuing to give back to their community.

Before their deaths, the couple set up a $7-million endowment fund for Wingham. The interest, estimated to be between $250,000 and $300,000 a year is to be spent to support education, health care, recreation and Christian churches in Wingham.

“This is one of the most amazing opportunities for any town, anywhere. These people spent their lifetime here and they saved, and they were on the Main Street working six days a week, and helping us out on the the seventh day, when we asked for it. So for them to make a donation like this that will bring in $250,000 to $300,000 a year to be put towards those that need it, is just amazing. We’re so grateful, so grateful,” says Municipality of North Huron Reeve Bernie Bailey.

“When I first heard about this, it kind of made my jaw drop. I mean this amount of money to be given to a community, to go in perpetuity. I mean, it’s going to literally...going on forever. It just doesn’t come along very often. It’s just so fantastic,” says Tiffin.

Tiffin and Bailey are part of a board that will take in applications and decide where the Vance Endowment Fund money will be spent each year. They expect the first grants to be spent in the community in 2022.

“Not many towns will have this opportunity, and we’re just so grateful. But, knowing the folks, it doesn’t really surprise me how generous they were,” says Bailey.

The Lee and Thora Vance Fund is set up through the Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation.