Our Unique History

History of the Central Okanagan Foundation
...by Frank Williams

Like any history, this is a story about people – the people in this story have the common quality of caring about the needs of residents of their community, in perpetuity.

In the early 1970's the Social Planning Council of Kelowna recognized that there was a shortage of funding to help address the needs that their inquiries exposed. A three-person committee was formed comprised of Ish Holmes, Lionel Wace, the originator of the idea of a foundation, and Frank Williams.

The three-man committee first approached Jake Peters, their friend, a local Alderman, and a person who was known to support worthy causes. When the idea was shared with Jake, the three were astounded to have him so readily agree to contribute the first $5,000 with Naramata Centre as the beneficiary.

The Committee concluded that a "pool" of funds was essential with the use of as much of the income as possible left to the discretion of the Directors of the new foundation for allocation. Dick Stewart, also an Alderman, and member of a long established Kelowna family, agreed to establish a family fund and to give leadership and vital assistance in the raising of the “pool” of funds. Dick was to become the first President and served as such for the first nine formative years till 1986, by which time the assets had grown to $537,297.

The original target was to encourage ten families to contribute $5,000 each over a period of no more than five years. The personal interviews that led to 16 positive responses were not only for funds but also were for interest in serving as founding Directors. The new society was incorporated on January 31, 1977. The sixteen founders were:

Honourable W.A.C. Bennett & Family Capozzi Family
Carruthers Family & Meikle Family Ephriam Arthur Day Family
Kelowna General Hospital Society D.G. McConachie Family
L.E. Marshall Family M. Jake Peters
Aubrey Roy Pollard Family Camillo Rampone Family
Jack & Helen Serwa S.M. Simpson Family
J. Bruce & Ann G. Smith Richard John Stewart Family
James H. Bannister & Madge Bannister Walden West Sunnyside Lands Ltd
We are grateful to these families for their commitment and vision for the community.

We are grateful to these families for their commitment and vision for the community. 


"In all these ways will we bequeath our City, not diminished, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was bequeathed to us."

- Guiding principle of the Founders of the Central Okanagan Foundation