When Karl Peterson founded the Crescent Tool Company in 1907, he had no idea the legacy he was creating for his family and others throughout the Chautauqua region.
When Karl passed away in 1933, his only son, Marvin quickly took over his father’s business after spending years watching him and working with him to create quality hand tools.
In 1952, The Crescent Foundation was formed to support community projects that would better the lives of the nearly 600 men and women who worked for Crescent Tool and their families.
Several years later, the foundation split into two equal parts, the first was managed by Marvin’s children, the other became known as the Karl Peterson Foundation, named in honor of their founder, and was to be managed by Crescent Tool’s trustees and employees.
For Stanford Jones, vice president of sales at Crescent Tool and one of the original trustees, his service became a labor of love that he would one day share with his son.
“(My father) absolutely loved his job at Crescent Tool Company,” recalled Greg Jones, Stanford’s son. “And although my parents never came right out and said it, they instilled in me and my sisters that it was important for us to give back to our community the best way we could.”
For over 40 years, Stanford served as a trustee of the Karl Peterson Foundation, researching requests and making grants to both community and religious organizations.
“(The Karl Peterson Foundation) was very unique in that it granted to religious organizations,” Greg said. “At the time of its creation, the fact that they wanted to do something charitable for their community was groundbreaking in many ways.”
In 1992, forty years after its creation, the Karl Peterson Foundation transferred its assets to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to be managed.
The transfer allowed for four new funds to be created, each one representative of Karl’s interests and passions. The funds were named: The Karl Peterson First Lutheran Church Fund, The Karl Peterson Lutheran Social Services Fund, The Karl Peterson Unrestricted Fund and the Karl Peterson Field of Interest Fund.
For several years, Stanford served on the Community Foundation’s grants committee to distribute funds from the Karl Peterson Field of Interest Fund. In the mid-1990s, when Stanford resigned, the Community Foundation asked Greg if he would be interested in chairing the committee.
“I understood the history of (Crescent Tool Company),” Greg said. “My father worked there for 35 years, my aunt worked there and I know how important (this foundation) was to the Peterson family.”
In addition to continuing the legacy of the Peterson family, and his father’s passion, Greg was drawn to the fact that the Karl Peterson Funds at the Community Foundation are some of the only competitive grants processes that award funds to religion organizations.
“When you attend a small, rural church and the furnace goes out, the fact that the Karl Peterson Fund can do something to replace it is very nice and it means a lot to those who attend that church,” Greg said.
And while the Crescent Tool Company is an important piece of our community’s history, the creation of its foundation to support this community makes it a living legacy for Karl, his family and all those who have benefitted from their generosity.
For 40 years, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has worked together with its inspiring donors, selfless volunteers and grateful community organizations to share their stories for enriching the quality of life for all who live here.