A cashiers’ supervisor in Colonial Williamsburg for over twenty years, Jenny Wible worked hard, cared deeply for her family, her pets, her flowers and her faith. She lived a fairly ordinary life; but upon her passing this year at age 94, Jenny did something extraordinary for her community. Her estate gift of $3 million – the largest gift in the Foundation’s history – created The Jenny E. Wible Fund at the Williamsburg Community Foundation to support three organizations that reflect her deeply held values: Walsingham Academy, St. Bede Catholic Church, and the Salvation Army of Williamsburg.
Jenny’s extraordinary gift to Williamsburg is rooted in a life of hard work and loving service. Born in Neckarhuasen, Germany in 1923, Jenny Erna Pfeutezenreuther Wible grew up in a furniture-making family that shared a strong Catholic faith. As a young woman, she endured a forced relocation to work for the Germany army, and then walked hundreds of miles back to her hometown to find her family when the war ended. While working for the U.S. army exchange, she met and later married a soldier from Philadelphia named George Wible; they moved to the U.S. in 1955.
At Colonial Williamsburg, Jenny was known not only for her intellect and acuity, but also for how she mentored the young women on her staff. In retirement, she continued a life of service to friends and neighbors. When her best friend passed away, leaving an infirm aunt without a caregiver, Jenny took up the role herself, offering round-the-clock care.
“Jenny was very faithful, a very proper lady, and very frugal. She never spent any money on herself,” said her good friend Sherry Monk. “She was very giving. Whenever someone was in need, she would give what she had. She was especially fond of animals, and was always rescuing cats on Harrison Avenue.” A devout Catholic, Jenny loved to receive weekly communion in her home from the JOY Ministers, fellow St. Bede parishioners. “Her husband used to sing her the Ave Maria. She loved opera,” remembers Sherry Monk.
Administered by the Williamsburg Community Foundation, the Jenny E. Wible Fund will benefit Williamsburg for years to come with annual grants. “Mrs. Wible’s gift is a perfect example of the Foundation’s mission – connecting people who care with causes that matter,” said Paul Gerhardt, WCF Board Chair. “She entrusted our community foundation with carrying out her charitable goals for the long-term – that’s what we are here for. What a difference this will make for so many people in our community.”
At Salvation Army, this will mean more low-income families and individuals can get the help they need with rent, food, clothing, school supplies, utilities and paying for medication, as well as transitional housing. “We are so grateful for this gift. The mission of The Salvation Army is to ‘meet human needs in Jesus’ name without discrimination,’” said Salvation Army’s Lieutenant Jeremy Lind, “and we can only achieve that mission through the continued generous support of people in the community like Jenny Wible.”
At. St. Bede, the Wible Fund will support a variety of ministries.
“We are incredibly grateful for this unexpected estate gift from Jenny Wible who has elevated Saint Bede Catholic Church to the status of family,” remarked Pastor Monsignor Timothy Keeney. “I wish I had the opportunity to personally thank Jenny for this generous ongoing donation. A portion of her fund will replace Jenny’s yearly contributions to the Offertory in support of the mission of our Church. The remainder will be used to help reduce our outstanding debt associated with the Living Our Mission capital campaign that funded our beautiful new Ministry/Administration Building. Our state of the art facility allows us to accommodate religious education for all ages and the many ministries that help lead our parishioners and visitors to encounter and build a deeper relationship with Christ. We are honored to perpetuate Jenny’s legacy that combines her love of God, music, children, and the faith community at Saint Bede.”
At Walsingham, funds will support financial aid. According to Walsingham’s President, Sister Mary Jeanne Oesterle, “The Jenny E. Wible Fund is a testament to the mission of Walsingham Academy and the ministering of young people. We are all blessed to be a part of this community and Mrs. Wible wanted to ensure that the values of a Walsingham education will be instilled in generations of students yet to walk these hallways. On behalf of the Sisters of Mercy, students, Board of Trustees, faculty and the Administration, I’d like to express my gratitude to Jenny Wible for the establishment of this fund and her investment in our learning community.”
Group Photo: (Back,L-R) Devin Arnold, Dir. of Advancement for Walsingham Academy, Rev. Monsignor Timothy Keeney, Pastor of St. Bede, Paul Gerhardt, Chair of WCF Board of Trustees, Lt. Jeremy Lind of Salvation Army; (Front Row) Bea Sanford, St. Bede Development Dir., Sister Mary Jeanne Oesterle, Walsingham Academy President, Nancy Sullivan & Ginny Gasink, Williamsburg Community Foundation.
*Photo Credit: Maddie Wezah