The mission of the Rye Foundation is to make a life-changing impact on North Carolina children
by providing grants in the areas of Religion, Youth, and Education.

News from the Rye

4 Lessons from Ray and Wilma

by Warren Steen

Annie Murray was right.

You may remember that the Canadian-born singer produced a hit single that contained these words, “We sure could use a little good news today.”

If your local newspaper is like mine, most of the news is very bad. As I write this column, our lead story in Forsyth County involves the arrest of two 12-year-olds for shooting a 15-year-old. In other news, a public official had to resign because she sent inappropriate text messages. On the sports page, another pro athlete failed a drug test.

Amidst this backdrop of malfeasance and mayhem, the Mount Airy News printed a human interest story that left me smiling. It is reassuring to know that positive things still emanate from Andy Griffith’s hometown.

Featured in the Mount Airy weekly were two people named Ray and Wilma Yoder, who live in Indiana. This married couple embarked on a very ambitious journey: they wanted to enjoy a meal in every Cracker Barrel restaurant in the United States.

That’s right, all 637 of them.

The Yoders traveled to Mount Airy, and when they finished their Surry County meal, they had dined at 635 Cracker Barrel establishments!

I believe we can learn several important things from these traveling Hoosiers.

1. Ray and Wilma set a goal.

It all began in the 1970’s, when Ray’s job entailed delivering vehicles to dealers across the entire country. Wilma always accompanied him, and they often stopped at Cracker Barrel for a hot meal.

2. Ray and Wilma did not use age as an excuse.

They are both 79, and their goal is within sight. The remaining two restaurants are located in Idaho and Mississippi.

3. Ray and Wilma shared a lot of laughter.

According to the feature article, they have traveled over 5 million miles together on life’s highway. In 2015, she experienced a health crisis. Still, they enjoy each other’s company and the prospects of another quality meal.

4. Ray and Wilma respond quickly to their own mistakes.

After being interviewed and posing for photos with staff members, the couple left Mount Airy and realized they had forgotten to leave a tip. Ray promptly made a phone call, and promised to send a generous tip in the mail.

The next time you pull off the interstate and head for a Cracker Barrel restaurant, look for an elderly couple from Indiana. Chances are, they won’t be sitting in the rocking chairs out front. I would look for them in a corner booth, enjoying their meatloaf and making memories. What kind of legacy do you plan to leave?

Campus Gazebo Dedicated in Memory of Engineer

Participants in the ribbon-cutting ceremony included (from left) Laura Crotts Paschall of Hickory, and her parents Marcus and Margo Crotts of Winston-Salem.

A major gift from the Rye Foundation brought great news to the campus of Nazareth Children’s Home in Rowan County. Recently, the Home held a ceremony to dedicate the Van Jackson Crotts Memorial Gazebo.

The naming opportunity was made possible by a donor-advised charitable gift from Marcus B. Crotts and his wife, Margo Jackson Crotts, of Winston-Salem. Their philanthropy is a memorial to their son Van, who died of cancer on January 25, 2015 at the age of 56.

Respected throughout Forsyth County, Van Jackson Crotts was an Eagle Scout and a graduate of N. C. State University. He also earned an M. B. A. from Wake Forest University, and served as President of Crotts and Saunders Engineering.

Vernon Walters, the President of Nazareth Children’s Home, spoke at the dedication and said, “The children of Nazareth will use the gazebo as a place of hope and healing. We are extremely grateful to the Crotts family and the Rye Foundation for this special investment in the lives of children.”

Future Projects

Currently, the Board of Directors of the Rye Foundation is making funding decisions about several projects aimed at helping children and youth:

Billy Graham Exhibit, Raleigh

The North Carolina Museum of History asked the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association to design a special exhibit on the life and ministry of Mr. Graham.  Over 60,000 school children and their teachers are expected to tour the multi-media displays.  It will officially open during the week of Mr. Graham’s 97th birthday.

Iredell-Statesville Schools Bible Association, Statesville

An elective course on the Bible is now taught to 400 students in five area high schools.  Businesses and civic leaders provide funding for Bibles and other curriculum materials.

Recently, the leader of the Monticello School–which targets students with discipline problems–requested that the course be added to its schedule.

American Hero Project, Winston-Salem

Plans are underway for 93 churches to cooperate in building a 1,358 square foot home for a wounded veteran.  A committee is actively working to mobilize volunteers for the project.  The Foundation’s possible interest is in helping to provide a children’s room or playground.

Camp Vandemere, Vandemere

Owned and operated by the Original Free Will Baptists, Camp Vandemere suffered devastating damage during Hurricane Irene.  Three new buildings have been erected, and camp officials expect 1,000 children next summer.  One of the top priorities of the Rye Foundation is helping to rebuild the camp.

Yadkinville Dentist Remembered for His Generosity

Technically speaking, Dr. Frank H. Walker did not have any children.  In reality, his philanthropic gifts helped and nurtured thousands of boys and girls across North Carolina.

Born in Elkin, he spend his career as a dentist in Yadkinville and lived his final years at the Brookridge Baptist Retirement Community in Winston-Salem.  He died on February 25, 2015 at the age of 91.  Louise Walker, his beloved wife of 69 years, passed away in 2013.

Dr. Frank H. Walker

Warren Steen, the president of the Rye Foundation, recalled Dr. Walker’s genuine interest in providing support for individual children.  “Over the last five years of his life, Dr. Walker was one of the most generous donors to our foundation,” he said.

Even in his 90’s, Dr. Walker closely followed current events. He was concerned about violence in America, and believed in the Rye Foundation’s mission of making a life-changing impact on North Carolina children.

Although Dr. Walker did not have children of his own, his generosity aided thousands through the Rye Foundation’s opportunities in music, scholarships, sports activities and summer camps.

A charter member of the Deacon Club at Wake Forest University, he followed his team closely, and always appreciated receiving a schedule of upcoming games.

At his funeral service — held at the Gentry Family Funeral Home in Yadkin County — many reflected on the kindness and generosity of this humble man.  And they came to the conclusion that he indeed had many children who counted on him for support and encouragement.

Dr. Frank Walker left a legacy of caring, serving and giving.  What kind of legacy do you plan to leave?

5 Ways to Help Children

  • Make a gift of cash.
  • Make a gift of stock.
  • “Leave a legacy” by including the Foundation in your will.
  • Establish a family fund.
  • Take advantage of a “named gift opportunity” and place the name of a family member on a building or special fund.

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