The donation will restore nine Gothic style windows on the church.
Dr. William “Leonard” Fair served the Chillicothe community for decades, and over that time he made close friendships as his practice took him onto homes of area residents. Some of his fondest memories include parishioners of the AME Church.
“He would always talk about sharing meals with and playing the piano with some of his patients, he had lots of good memories,” Fair’s wife, Billie said.
“He remembered these things and shared the stories long after he retired,” daughter Susan Fair said.
Recently, Billie Fair attended an event hosted by the Grand River Historical Society and Museum in which they were discussing the needs of the church, which was donated and then moved near the museum. Fair then decided she wanted to make a donation in honor of her late husband.
“He considered it an honor to serve the community and I consider it an honor to do this to preserve the church,” she said.
Fair said she hoped that others would also be inspired to preserve a rich piece of Chillicothe’s history.
Zelma Cleveland, fundraising board member and museum volunteer said at the group’s recent quarterly meeting the committee arranged a display of photos, seeking a donation for the needs of the church.
“We have been very blessed to have a number of local organizations and individuals come forward to help preserve the church, but there is still much to be done,” she said.
A number of local businesses and individuals have also offered their services.s a local business is donating the installation of the HVAC system, though donors are still needed to pay for the system itself.
A local craftsman is working on new doors for the church, which will incorporate the 150-year-old natural oak from other areas of the church.
The current fundraising needs are to finish the sanctuary of the church. The church and the 1,500 square foot basement will be available for community use for meetings and events. Pam Klingerman, director of the historical society and museum said they already have two weddings booked.
“We also plan to use the sanctuary as an African-American revolving museum,” she said. “We have already been talking with the Smithsonian to get an exhibit they are planning.”
Anyone wishing to donate time or labor to the church project should contact Klingerman at the museum.
Fair said she thinks the church is a gem, full of history which the whole community stands to benefit from.
“The history in that church alone says a lot about our community and I hope it can be enjoyed and remembered for a very long time.”