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$40M gift to community

Auer Foundation donation benefits zoo, library, philharmonic, IPFW for next 10 years

Friday, August 1, 2008 - 10:47 am

The Edward D. and Ione Auer Foundation announced Thursday it will donate $1 million a year for 10 years - a combined total of $40 million - to four local organizations: Fort Wayne Children's Zoo, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.

“This is huge,” said Zoo Director Jim Anderson. “It is a huge gift to the community. It is a huge gift to the zoo.” Officials from the other three recipients could not be reached as of press time today.

The money is to be used as an endowment fund, from which the recipients must spend 5 percent a year, Anderson said. The organizations tentatively plan to use the endowment money in the following ways, the Auer Foundation said in a news release:

• Zoo: For projects including new animal exhibits, infrastructure repair and improvements, and projects that improve the experience of zoo visitors.

• Allen County Public Library: To support the library's Genealogy Center, which brings millions of tourist dollars to Allen County annually and serves researchers worldwide.

• Philharmonic: To increase its work in music education, in addition to exploring artistic and organizational innovation.

• IPFW: For endowment income for scholarships. All majors are eligible, with a priority given to music majors. Students must live in one of the following Indiana counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells or Whitley. There will be a preference given to those students residing in Allen County. Scholarship recipients will be selected by IPFW.

The Auer Foundation is scheduled to be in existence for 15 years, but expects to continue influencing the community through the endowments and scholarships. The ideas for the organizations selected and use of endowment funds for scholarships and projects are taken from Ione Auer's past giving interests and her planning documents, according to the foundation's news release.

Edward D. Auer was senior vice president of Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., was president of his own firm, Auer Investment Co., president of the Parkview Hospital board and investment committee chair of the Fort Wayne Community Foundation. He died in November 1975.

His wife, Ione Breeden Auer, was a member of First Wayne Street United Methodist Church, served as an advisory trustee of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and was a life member of the Board of Friends of the Music School of Indiana University.

She was a philanthropist, donating money to construct IPFW's concert-lecture hall, to create a scholarship fund at IPFW and to help create the downtown Fort Wayne Courthouse Green. She died in January 2007.