CARTERVILLE — It’s not every day that someone asks to meet with Keith Liddell, superintendent of Carterville Community Unit School District, and gives him a check for $1 million from the estate of the late James and Rosemary Childress.
James Childress graduated from Carterville High School in 1946. Liddell said he was very fond of Carterville School District.
A trustee of the estate called and asked to meet with Liddell, so they met in late September 2017.
“We were sitting down at the conference table in my office," Liddell said. "He pulled out an envelope and slid it across the table."
To his surprise, the envelope contained a check for $1 million payable to Carterville Schools Foundation.
Liddell told the school board about the check at its next meeting, and they agreed it should go to the foundation. There was just one little problem — Carterville Schools Foundation has disbanded.
“We didn’t expect anyone to give us $1 million,” said Ed Smith, president of Carterville Schools Foundation. “What a great thing to happen.”
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Smith said they had to recreate some records, finish new paperwork with the state to be granted charity status, and rally former members.
“It happened," Smith said, "and we’re back in business."
Last spring, the foundation awarded scholarships to graduating seniors. They are currently taking applications from teachers for classroom grants.
James Childress graduated from Southern Illinois University in 1951 and became a successful businessman. He owned numerous corporations and businesses in industries such as steel erection, banking, construction, sales, and motels and nursing homes.
James died May 21, 2016. Rosemary “Dee” Childress died July 6, 2015. They were both 90.
Upon their deaths, their estate gave $1.5 million to John A. Logan College and added $2 million to the James B. and Rosemary Samuel Childress Scholarship at SIU, which they established in 1989.
“What do you say when somebody slides an envelope across the table, and it’s a gift of that magnitude? Thank you does not seem like enough. This will benefit hundreds of kids for many, many years,” Liddell said.