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Finnup Foundation

Providing Opportunities for Southwest Kansas

Finnup Foundation

From Foundation Focus - Summer 2019

Sharing opportunities with Garden City and the southwest Kansas communities has been at the heart of the Finnup family and the Finnup Foundation for more than a century.

While the oldest Frederick Finnup did not have a formal education after the fifth grade, he was shown how to run a business when he became an apprentice with a carpenter. After his service in the Civil War, he became a partner in a furniture factory in Indiana. In 1879, he moved west seeking a place to open a general store and settled in Garden City. He came to love a town that had a true pioneer and community spirit. From the time he arrived in Finney County to the time he passed away, he was the largest taxpayer, and he had the good will to help community members during the hard times.

He passed on his business acumen and his entrepreneurial and philanthropic spirit to his son George Finnup, who went on to take one semester at Washburn University in the fall of 1883. This was the beginning of a lifelong legacy with the University. He served for 11 years on the board of trustees for Washburn College.

George Finnup was a proponent of education and appreciated knowledge, said Caverly Hart, a third cousin to George’s children who works for the Finnup Foundation in Garden City. She pointed to the fact he kept a notecard of Proverbs 4:7 on his desk at all times citing wisdom and understanding as principal things.

“He was very philanthropic with the community, but he was a quiet giver,” said Amy Heinemann, an employee of the Finnup Foundation, noting George gave land for the Carnegie Library and provided matching grants to improve the local school libraries.

George’s son, Frederick, ba ’25, went on to graduate from Washburn after completing two years at Garden City Community College. Frederick, and his sister Isabel, established the Finnup Foundation Trust in 1977 to continue the family’s tradition of giving back to the community.

Today, the Foundation has three main beneficiaries – the Garden City Community Congregational Church, Washburn University and the City of Garden City Park Department. At Washburn, a generous annual gift from the Foundation goes toward scholarships for students who have graduated from high schools in Finney County and the surrounding area.

“The Finnups were very blessed, and whereas many families kept those blessings to themselves, they really wanted to give opportunities to the community,” Hart said. “They saw the responsibility of those blessings and made life better for others too.”

Ichabod Washburn statue

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1729 MacVicar Avenue
Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483