About the Gebbie Foundation



Gebbie Foundation Beginnings




The Gebbie Foundation was established in 1964 from the charitable bequest of two sisters, Geraldine Gebbie Bellinger and Marion Bertram Gebbie. The sisters named the foundation in honor of their parents, Frank and Harriet Louisa Gebbie. The elder Gebbies passed on to their daughters, as well as subsequent generations of the family, a deep-seated ethic of commitment to high ideals, personal integrity, and compassion for others. The Gebbie legacy is consequently as much about the progressive and community-minded spirit, for which Mr. Gebbie as founder of the Mohawk Condensed Milk Company is remembered, as it is about the substantial resources provided by the foundation for an improved quality of life in Chautauqua County.

Geraldine Gebbie BellingerGeraldine Gebbie Bellinger
Marion Gebbie
Marion Bertram Gebbie

For a more in-depth history of the Gebbie family
please click on the following link.
The Gebbie Family




Historic Mission Statement

The Gebbie Foundation’s mission is to is to support appropriate charitable
and humanitarian programs to improve the quality of life, primarily
in Chautauqua County, by focusing on:



Provide opportunities to young children and families for growth and learning; to encourage them to become productive citizens; assist those interested in extending their education; and provide funding to enhance educational programs.



Provide the community the opportunity to expand its knowledge, appreciation, and participation in the arts, while improving the quality of various programs.


Human Services

Provide funding for programs responding to individual needs with special
attention to those who suffer from social, economic or cultural deprivation.


Community Development

Provide assistance in maintaining, preserving, and enhancing
our economic, health, and environmental assets.



September 2012

The following is an excerpt from a history given to new board members by Gebbie board member Rhoe B. Henderson III. Mr. Henderson has spent decades dedicating his energies and expertise to the Jamestown community and the last twenty years as a Gebbie Foundation Board Member. As a board member, he has served as President, Treasurer and chair of several committees including the Investment & Finance Committee.


The Gebbie family and the Foundation, founded by them, have always worked and contributed in the background. Even before the Foundation was formed, the family performed many good works for agencies and individuals, most of which the public was never aware.

Prior to my board service, two major contributions were especially notable:  a grant to The Chautauqua Institution and another to The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation (CRCF). The grant agreement to the Institution held stipulations that turned it around from an organization with deep financial problems, to what it is today. CRCF was given $300,000 in seed money and has now become a $60,000,000 asset to the community.

I remember working with such notable board members as Bill Parker, Geddie Parker, and Bertram Parker, the family representatives. I also served with non-family members such as Buck Franks, Chuck Hall, Linda Swanson, George Campbell, Becky Robbins, Lillian Ney, Marty Coyle, Paul Sandberg, and John Hamilton. John Hamilton was an original board member, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Foundation with duties that included investment activities.

From my perspective, there are two watershed moments that stand out.  One was when the Gebbie Board decided to change the Foundation structure to an Executive Director who would not serve as a board member, and to realign staff positions. We also instituted methods to limit terms of service enabling the board to bring in quality new members. The second was the decision, at a board retreat, to take the path of becoming proactive in grant-making with the idea of pursuing the development of a large economic development project. From these brainstorming sessions, the concept of the Ice Arena being that project emerged. A second and separate goal was to try to improve the self-image of our community. The Arena turned out to be the catalyst for doing both.

The Foundation decided to move away from the reactive form of traditional grant-making to human service and arts organizations, to instead, focus on targeted Economic Development funding. This was a painful transition for the grantees, as well as, the staff and Board. Some grants were stopped immediately while others were decreased over a period of 3 years.

The bottom line was that Gebbie had changed its staffing model, investment method, Board members, and strategic focus in a relatively short period of time, achieving a huge impetus to the “renaissance” of this community.