John Herndon was born and grew up in Fredericksburg for his first four years but spent most of his adult life away from the town. Educated in Washington DC he lived in Alexandria and worked with a variety of government agencies – the Census bureau, US Capital, Treasury Department. In retirement he moved to Charlottesville and died there in 1952. In his spare time he was a genealogist on the Herndon family.
On February 16, 1951, Mr. Herndon created a trust by agreement to be known as the Herndon Memorial Trust Fund of St. George’s Episcopal Church of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Vestry, by resolution, accepted the trust fund and appointed three trustees to administer the trust fund. The funds were “to be used for the support, maintenance, hospitalization, medical expenses or up-keep of an elderly man or elderly men in needy circumstances, preferably belonging to St. George’s Protestant Episcopal Church of Fredericksburg, Virginia, or some other elderly men or elderly men who may need support, maintenance, hospitalization, medical expenses or up-keep or for such other charitable purposes as the aforesaid Trustees deem necessary and advisable.
Another part of this fund came from his will . After payment of his debts and expenses, Mr. Herndon bequeathed 85% of the remainder of his estate to “The Episcopal Church Home for Men”, provided that the home was established and actively operating at the time of his death. If the home was not established and in active operation, then 45% of the remainder of his estate was bequeathed to the Herndon Memorial Trust Fund to be held by Trustees of St. George’s Episcopal Church and 40% was loaned to the Herndon Memorial Trust Fund and to be used by the Trustees to benefit an elderly man or men of St. George’s Church. If within five years there was still no home for elderly men, then Mr. Herndon directed that this additional 40% be added to the 45% already under the control of the Trustees. His hope was not realized as an Episcopal Home for Men was never built. Thus all these funds came to St. George’s in the Herndon Trust.
The Fund continues to this day as one fund to handle the medical needs of elderly men with just over $500,000 in assets. The trustees have struggled for a definition of an elderly man in our modern time since in Herndon’s time there was no medicare or medicaid. They consider each case separately rather relying on hard and fast rules. From 2012-2014 they provided just under $28,000 for elderly men in the area