The Eberly Family
In 1917, Orville Eberly, of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, left German Township High School in his sophomore year to marry Ruth Rhoda Moore, a neighbor and family friend. They made their home in Greensboro, Pennsylvania, where Orville started out as a coal mine electrician. He soon went into the mines for the higher pay needed to support his growing family of three children, Robert, Margaret and Carolyn.
He worked for the W.J. Rainey Company mines in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for the next 15 years. Then in 1933, in the midst of the Great Depression, he entered into a contract to mine coal from the County Home Mine, which supplied coal to Fayette County buildings. The following year, Orville, along with a school teacher and a local doctor, organized the Old Home Fuel Company and obtained a lease on the Old Home Mine where Orville once worked.
The partners obtained agreements to operate additional mines and then expanded into oil drilling in the area. Along with his growing business accomplishments, Orville developed a deep interest in nurturing the education of young people, and devoted much of his time, talent and resources to this endeavor. He led the successful effort to establish a branch of The Pennsylvania State University in Fayette County.
The Second National Bank of Uniontown appointed Orville as director in 1956, and he became chairman of the board later that year until 1978 when he retired and was succeeded by his son.
The Eberly Foundation was established in October 1963. Orville served as president until his death in 1983. Ruth succeeded him until her death in 1988 when Robert assumed the office. Following Orville’s death in 1983, his stock in the bank was sold and proceeds from the sale were used to fund the Eberly Family Charitable Trust. With the passing of Robert Eberly in 2004, his sister, Carolyn Eberly Blaney, assumed the responsibilities of president of The Eberly Foundation.
Through the trust and the foundation, the Eberly Family has provided benefits to thousands of individuals through the funding of scholarships, cultural programming, health care, law enforcement and other worthy endeavors. The Eberly children—Robert, Margaret and Carolyn—continued their parents’ legacy of commitment to philanthropic activities to enhance educational opportunities, encourage the arts and historic preservation and improve the lives of those in need, particularly in western Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.
After completing their educations, all three served on the boards of the foundation and the trust. Robert earned a bachelor of science in chemistry from Pennsylvania State University, Margaret completed courses in art at Penn State’s Fayette County campus and became a master judge of the national flower show, and Carolyn graduated from WVU and the College of Arts and Sciences with a bachelor of arts in public speaking with an emphasis in drama.
In 1987, the Eberly Family Charitable Trust of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, established three Eberly Family Distinguished Professorships in the College of Arts and Sciences. National searches were undertaken to identify candidates of appropriate academic and leadership qualities to fill these prestigious positions. Two years later the Eberly family provided support to create three additional professorships. Again, in 1992, the Eberly family provided financial assistance for the establishment of additional professorships. Currently, there are 16 Eberly Family Distinguished Professorship appointments within the College.
In 1993, as part of “The Campaign for West Virginia University,” The Eberly Family Charitable Trust and The Eberly Foundation committed substantial financial resources to the College of Arts and Sciences, which further enhanced the established endowment and provided wide-ranging support for faculty, student and academic units. During the Building Greatness Campaign, The Eberly Foundation generously supported the Life Sciences Building construction project.