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Teacher’s impact lives on through ACCF endowment funds

May 6, 2021

ASHLAND – For more than 52 years, Mary Nearhood taught English, French, Latin and Spanish at Ruggles-Troy, Mapleton and Mansfield St. Peter’s high schools. To say that she enjoyed her job is an understatement. 

She loved seeing the look on a student’s face when they finally “got it.” She loved taking students on tours of Europe, not only to practice their foreign language skills but also to expand their view of the world. And she loved when former students would reach out, as they often did, to tell her about their successes in continuing education or in their careers. Many times, Mary’s students credited her with igniting the spark that fueled them on their path.

Though Mary passed away in 2020, her legacy will live on forever through three new funds established by her husband at Ashland County Community Foundation.

Totaling $250,000, the permanently endowed “James H. and Mary K. Nearhood Family” funds will be invested to generate about $8,000 each year, in perpetuity. The investment income will be used to support teachers and inspire students for generations to come.

Jim Nearhood, 92, set up the three funds to fulfill a dream the couple had discussed before Mary’s death.

Jim worked at Eagle Rubber before joining his mother to help run the local Western Auto store and then starting his own Carquest store. All the while, he supported Mary in her pursuits, which included not only teaching and travel with her students but also active roles in Altrusa, Alpha Delta Kappa and Sts. Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Mansfield.

“It means everything to (dad) to have these funds continue for mom because he knew how passionate she was about this,” said Connie Nearhood, daughter of Jim and Mary. “Long after we’re all gone, (mom) wanted to make sure students had the opportunity to go into education. She felt very strongly that education is like a cornerstone of life that leads to so many opportunities.”

One fund will provide two $2,000 scholarships annually to local high school graduates who plan to study education. The second will provide mini-grants to first-year teachers to support programs and projects for their students. The third will provide funding for ACCF’s IMPACT Youth Grants program, allowing the foundation’s IMPACT Youth Council to award additional grants each year.

Donations in any amount may be added by anyone at any time to the “James H. and Mary K. Nearhood Family Scholarship Fund for Education,” the “James H. and Mary K. Nearhood Family Fund for Educator Assistance” and the “James H. and Mary K. Nearhood Family Fund for Youth Empowerment.” To donate, mail a check with the fund name in the memo line to Ashland County Community Foundation, 300 College Ave. Ashland, OH 44805, or give online at

About Ashland County Community Foundation: Ashland County Community Foundation advances philanthropy and improves the quality of life in Ashland County by connecting people who care with causes that matter. ACCF has awarded over $18 million in scholarships, grants and distributions.