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Ghidottis keep on giving

Illustration by The Union's John HartA newspaper article about Marian Ghidotti, left, and photos from newspaper articles at the Searls Historical Library in Nevada City.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Although William Ghidotti died in 1969 and Marian Ghidotti in 1980, the couple’s name is recognized today by many Nevada County residents.

The Ghidotti Foundation has always been added to donor lists in program brochures at Music in the Mountains and Foothill Theatre Company performances. The two nonprofit organizations have received donations from the Ghidotti Foundation every year since the 1980s.

Because foundation trustees are quiet about their gift-giving, it may surprise MIM and FTC audiences and the general public that a majority of funds are given annually to Nevada County youth in the form of college scholarships.



Last June, 40 out of 150 high school senior applicants at Bear River High School, Nevada Union High School and Forest Lake Christian School were selected to receive about $3,500 each, renewable every year while they’re at college.

“The foundation was originally set up primarily by the Ghidottis as a scholarship fund and also to assist the 4-H and FFA students,” said Frank Francis, chairman of the Ghidotti Foundation board of trustees for the last 22 years.




Although the amount fluctuates every year, the Ghidotti Foundation doled out close to $500,000 last year alone, said Erica Erickson, secretary of the board of trustees.

During the past 20 years, the foundation has also given $800,000 to the lower schools for computers.

Other youth-oriented organizations also benefit from the foundation, such as Child Advocates of Nevada County and Friendship Club.

“Scholarships come first,” Francis stressed. ” The Ghidottis’ center was children, they didn’t have any, they really liked teenagers, they had the 4-H kids working on their ranch, they had a connection.”

Not counting the scholarship applications, Francis estimates the foundation receives 50 new requests a year from community groups.

That’s not including organizations like Hospice of the Foothills, county libraries, Miners Foundry Cultural Center, Nevada County Land Trust and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital that have received gifts in the range of $3,000.

The foundation was formed April 1, 1965.

“They were very involved in FFA and 4-H and the community as a whole. Bill was very involved in Elks and Marian in Soroptimist,” Erickson said. “After Bill died, Marian carried on very well. After her death, we got involved. She was very specific in what she wanted. She appointed the trustees.”

Those trustees still serving some 20 years later are Francis, Erickson and Williams Toms. They in turn chose Mary Bouma, a lifetime friend of the Ghidottis. When Stan Hall, who was a trustee with Marian Ghidotti, died, his wife, Ruth Unger, replaced him. Bouma and Unger still serve today with three other longtime trustees.

They work together easily, frequently talking on the phone and annually meeting four or five times to dispense monies from the invested trust fund. Only income is used.

“There’s rarely differences. We’re all friends of the Ghidottis; it’s kind of carrying on in their tradition,” Francis stated.

Erickson agrees.

“It’s amazing we get along so well all these years. It’s as if Marian’s still here. We do follow her thoughts. We’ve kept it that way,” Erickson said.

The trustees volunteer yearlong for the foundation.

“We receive no compensation and we try not to spend any money even to get a fax machine,” Francis laughed.


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