Salisbury Family Funds New Children's Theatre


The new Norvell Theater in Salibury, North Carolina was created with a lead gift from the estate of long-time Foundation For The Carolinas client Judy Norvell, along with gifts from the donor advised funds of her two sons.

The town of Salisbury might look very different today were it not for the generosity and community spirit of the Norvell family. The new Norvell Theater in Salisbury, a state-of-the-art children’s theater, was created with a lead gift from the estate of Judy Norvell, along with gifts from the donor advised funds of her two sons. The theater is only the latest manifestation of the family’s long-term commitment to giving and to the people of the Rowan-Salisbury area.

The tradition of giving has been alive and well in the Norvell family for many generations. Lucile Proctor was known for her generosity throughout the Salisbury-Rowan community, where she established the Proctor Foundation. Her daughter, Judy Proctor Norvell, established donor advised funds with the Salisbury Community Foundation, a regional affiliate of Foundation For The Carolinas, for herself and two her sons, Edward and Owen Norvell. Lucile’s other daughter, Patsy Rendleman, has served as the president of the Salisbury Community Foundation and also has a donor advised fund there.

Together and separately, the Norvells have supported a variety of community purposes throughout the area, as well as providing volunteer leadership in numerous projects such as the Meroney Theatre, the YMCA of Rowan County, and the Rowan Museum. When Judy Norvell, who was an elementary school art teacher, passed away in 2008, she left in her will a significant donation for the children’s theater in the form of real estate. Her will also stipulated gifts into the donor advised funds of her sons, who acted to honor their mother with further generous gifts to the theater fund.

Thanks to these grants from members of the Norvell family, as well as support from many other donors, the theater fund reached its $3 million fundraising goal in the fall of 2009, and in spring 2010, months ahead of schedule, the facility hosted its inaugural performance – an invitation-only production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” produced and performed by the community’s children. Today, the theater is busy hosting summer camps and performances – as it will continue to do for many years to come.

Susan Linn Norvell and Ellen Linn Messinger

Edward Norvell’s wife, Susan Linn Norvell, and her sister, Ellen Linn Messinger, also come from a community-minded and philanthropic family with connections to Foundation For The Carolinas. The sisters' parents, D.C. and Frances Linn, wanted to create a community park in Landis, a small town in Rowan County just north of Kannapolis. The Linns had recently used some undeveloped real estate to establish a donor advised fund, with a view to donating the property for the park, when they tragically lost their lives in an automobile accident in 2009. Susan and Ellen resolved to memorialize their parents through additional gifts of real estate, the proceeds from which will fund the development of the park, as well as other community organizations.

For many decades, Foundation For The Carolinas and the Salisbury Community Foundation have served the Norvell family and helped them achieve their philanthropic goals. Bequests, gifts of real estate and donor advised funds are among the many vehicles the family has used as they have continued their work to enhance the lives of their neighbors in the Salisbury-Rowan County area.