Throughout their 56-year marriage, Charles and Marilee Whitman have always tried to leave things a little better than they found them.

“We never wanted to leave a town and have people say, ‘Whew, I’m glad those Whitmans are gone,’” said Charles. “I always tried to give back more than I took.”

Charles and Marilee came to West Michigan from Ohio in the early 1970s. When they moved, Charles asked Marilee if she wanted to live a bigger city like Grand Rapids. The answer was quick and clear.

“Marilee said, ‘get me to a small town!’” he remembered with a smile. The couple ultimately settled in Fremont.

“This is home,” said Marilee. “It’s a good place to be from.”

Along the way, Charles got involved in the Jaycees and Rotary. The couple is active in their church, and when their son joined Boy Scouts, Charles got involved there too.

“It’s a fun organization designed to teach leadership,” said Charles. “People have gone through the scouting program and now they use the qualities they learned in their day-to-day life.”

The Whitmans’ belief in the positive impact of scouting, along with their dedication to their local church, led them to create a fund at the Community Foundation to support both organizations. They also have a life insurance policy that will go to the Community Foundation.

“Life is good and God has blessed us,” said Charles. “We spent a lot of time sharing our time and efforts with the community and now we’re able to share some of our resources too.”