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Lutheran Family Services of Virginia > It’s not easy being superintendent.

It’s not easy being superintendent: Keeping the Home in the black was a full-time job

It was a predicament that almost everyone who has run a charitable institution faces: too much need, too few resources. In the first years of the last century, the Children’s Home was turning away orphans for lack of beds. For John T. Crabtree, pictured above, not being able to accommodate these children was especially painful as he himself had been orphaned at the age of eight. He became superintendent in 1904 at a time when the Home was borrowing money to meet the needs of its residents and staff.

Crabtree and Board President Dr. L.A. Fox were constantly appealing to the larger church community for support. On one occasion, Professor Crabtree, as he was always called, made an appeal through the Lutheran Church Visitor that included the following plea: “We need another cow. We know where there is a very good one. Will some of our friends send us the necessary $35 with which to buy her?”

Through the continuing efforts of the Board, concerned church leaders, and a generous bequest that became the foundation of an endowment, the Home established firmer financial footing. In 1912, the same year that the Home’s enrollment surpassed 100 children, Crabtree and the Board started a building fund. Professor Crabtree died in 1922, and did not live to see five new buildings, which were completed in 1926 and formed the core of the home for the next 60 years.

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