James "Jim" Dresher was as a man of utmost honesty; a hard worker who was unpretentious, quiet, and a problem solver. His wife, Virginia Dresher, was known for her core values of integrity, generosity, and love of family. The two of them met in the shadows of the Great Depression just outside of Pittsburgh where they began their life together.
They married in 1942 while Jim was attending night school and Virginia was enrolled in secretarial school. Soon after, Jim earned his accounting degree and began his professional career as a Certified Public Accountant, while Virginia stayed home to care for their four children.
The passing years saw them moving from coast to coast as Jim pursued new career opportunities. Yet despite achieving great success professionally, there was nothing more important to him and his wife than their family. There was a philosophy they tended to live by: “To whom much is given, much is expected” and they created a family culture built on hard work, respect, tolerance, and humility.
While Jim held top management positions in several companies throughout the years, what he really wanted was a business of his own. He felt that owning his own firm would give him a chance to build something to sustain him in his retirement years and would also provide business opportunities for his children, and eventually, his grandchildren. He relished the prospect of managing something he built from the ground up. His years as a successful business owner began in 1972 with one fast-food restaurant, McDonalds, in Edgewood, Maryland. Eighteen years later, the Dresher McDonald franchises numbered 12, employing over 1,000 employees, and having won national awards from the chain by the time the family sold the business.
In 1975, they purchased Glenangus farm in Bel Air. This 372-acre historic horse farm ultimately became the hub for Jim and Virginia’s large and growing extended family. Throughout the years, Jim gets credit for helping family members start and manage their businesses and other investments, while Virginia provided the glue that enabled them to work well together.
Taking guidance from Andrew Carnegie, Jim and Virginia established the Dresher Foundation in 1989 to channel a substantial portion of the family’s fortune to the greater good of nearby communities. They also hoped running the foundation would help to hold succeeding generations together.
Philanthropy was central to who Jim and Virginia were as individuals, and they understood how it could lead to hope and opportunity for their fellow man. Three generations later, the opportunity —and responsibility—to use the foundation’s resources wisely for the good of society is the legacy Jim and Virginia left to the family they loved.