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Leading Locally: Lockwood Community Foundation

In the southwestern corner of Dade County one finds Lockwood, a town largely based on agriculture that dates to the 1880s

Affiliate profiles

Lockwood affiliate extends community legacy

The prairie of the western Ozarks is built on history but grows the future through agricultural use, a sense of community and connections with future generations – causes that are supported by entities like the Lockwood Community Foundation.

Since it began in 1998, the LCF has funded needs ranging from a van for the local nursing home to support of the town library, totaling about $3.4 million for local causes to date.

“Everything that we do is based very much around the Lockwood area, not Dade County,” says Renee Galer, president of the LCF. “Pretty much Lockwood. It sounds kind of narrow minded, but yet, we feel that it helps the town itself.”

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Lockwood is located in the southwestern corner of Dade County.

The community’s story goes back to the early 1880s, and ties to the railroad. In fact, in 1881, three separate communities were started in the vicinity, all competing to be The One that won out. That was at the hands of W.J. Davis, a local farmer — rivaled by a capitalist with large real estate holdings and a lawyer of New York City who owned land in the area — made the biggest impact when the railroad adopted his selection of a name for the place called Lockwood.

According to “The History of Dade County and Its People,” the community was named “in honor of the general passenger agent of the road at that time. (Davis) also secured the post-office which was another powerful factor in his favor.”

History is evident in the small town and comes through the work of the LCF — especially in its early years, when many causes were linked to the town’s legacy industry of agriculture and its future through education.

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The LCF is committed to serving the needs of the Lockwood community, which currently has about 850 people.

“We have given money to different projects at the school,” Galer says. “If they needed parts or some new piece of equipment, we helped purchase it — particularly if it had to do with like the industrial arts or ag and things like that, because that’s what we’re so much based on.”

It was Galer’s parents, the late Fred and LaRue Lemons, who helped establish the foundation. For 15 years, Fred served as president of the LCF, and an annual award recognizing affiliate leaders is named in his memory. Today, their daughter is one of its primary leaders, but she says they are also seeking to involve younger community members to keep its mission moving forward.

“The town was that important to them. My dad did not grow up in this town; He grew up in south-central Missouri in a very small town, but he moved here and he became an integral part of the community,” Galer says. “There were a lot of people that would do things for Lockwood if they knew they could.”

She also shares others — like Johnny Tubaugh and the Clinton Schilling family — who have made a significant impact on the LCF.

"These additions are so greatly appreciated," she says. "They show Lockwood was a special place to their families as well."

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Lockwood has maintained a bustling downtown complete with its library, and a number of shops, stops, stores and more.

In addition to that spirit, the community of about 850 has other unique factors including its Immanuel Lutheran School — tying to its legacy heritage — and a nine-hole golf course on the edge of town. There’s also a dry goods store that dates back nearly a century.

“You have a lot of different people that have joined the community,” says Galer. “We are blessed in the sense that they’re very active, so we have a lot of people who fill a lot of roles here in the small town, but they’re willing to do that.

“I think it is still a great place to rear kids. I want the town to be a special place like it was for all of us.”

Looking to the future: Renewed options for funding and board work

While the LCF has a dedicated core board, Galer says they are also looking to expand and connect with other locals who are interested in carrying on the foundation’s mission. Preliminary efforts are also in the works to plan a new fundraiser that combines music and the area’s natural beauty: Stay tuned (no pun intended) for more information as plans evolve.

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