Addressing the damage
While the museum’s collection was thankfully safe off-site, another question loomed ahead: How will the historical society pay for all of the repairs?
Insurance would help cover some of the expense. But considering the historical society’s limited income, money is tight, and the thought of additional funding would be most welcome.
“Our only source of income that pays our bills is publishing and selling books, and we’ve not done that since December,” Bohannon says. “We have an operating account, but when you go into something like this, there’s all these things that insurance doesn’t want to cover, and you still have to pay.”
If only there was money somewhere — perhaps some kind of “rainy day fund” — that could help the WCHS after not just rain, but wind and fire as well, had wreaked so much havoc upon its museum.
The power of endowments
As discussions evolved about how to cover expenses related to the damage, a board member recalled hearing about a fund that Rowen, the longtime historical society president, had set up many years before with the Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
“He just always was interested in history,” says Lois Bowman, vice president of WCHS and an old friend of Rowen. “The money that he did have, he wanted to make sure that it would go toward the historical society. You know, to help out there.”
But beyond Bowman’s recollections, details about the fund were scarce.