History

The Founders

1620
  • Henry Whitney, great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather of James Morton Rockwell, born in England. By 1640 he has immigrated to the United States and purchased land on Long Island.

1863
  • James Morton Rockwell, the founder of Rockwell Fund, is born in Cloverdale, Indiana.

1867
  • Sara Wade Richardson is born in Okolona, Mississippi.

1877
  • Mr. Rockwell moves with his parents to Albany, Texas.

1883
  • At the age of 20, he is employed by the M. T. Jones Lumber Company and soon becomes manager of the Albany lumber yard.

1889
  • James M. Rockwell and Sarah Wade Richardson marry in Cisco, Texas.

1890
  • James and Sarah's first child, James Wade Rockwell, is born in Cisco, Texas.

1891
  • Jesse H. Jones, a young man who would become prominent in the history of Houston and its philanthropy, moves from Tennessee to Texas, where in 1895 he will begin work in his uncle M. T. Jones' lumber yard in Hillsboro.

1892
  • James and Sarah's second child, Cecil C. Rockwell, is born in Amarillo, Texas.

1893
  • Mr. Rockwell is appointed manager and auditor of all the M. T. Jones lumber yards.

1895
  • Mr. Rockwell opens his first lumber yard in Sherman, Texas. Eventually, the family also will own and operate lumber yards under variations of "Rockwell Lumber Company" and "Rockwell Bros. & Co." in Albany, Bardwell, Big Spring, Breckenridge, Cisco, Coleman, Colorado, Hereford, Kemp, Kress, Lueders, Midland, Moran, Plainview, Rotan, Slaton, Tulia and Waxahachie, Texas; and Bokchito, Oklahoma; and as the "Portales Lumber Co." in Portales, New Mexico.

1898
  • Mr. Rockwell establishes his home and business headquarters in Houston. He serves, with Jesse Jones and three others, as an executor of the M. T. Jones estate.

1899
  • James and Sarah's third child, Lillian Rockwell, is born in Houston.

1901
  • James and Sarah's fourth, and last, child, Henry Martin Rockwell, is born in Houston.

1904
  • The Waxahachie Lumber Company is incorporated in the State of Texas. In 1922 its name is changed to Rockwell Lumber Company.

1917-
1919

  • James W. Rockwell serves during World War I as an officer with the American Expeditionary Force in France. At the outbreak of World War II he applies for reinstatement but is turned down.

1931
  • James M. Rockwell dies after suffering a heart attack at his home on Crawford Street near downtown Houston. His will provides that a portion of the income from his estate be placed in a charitable trust, thereby creating the Rockwell Fund. The will directs that the trust "shall be annually distributed in the support of the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ on Earth, and in worthy charity, to be determined by my Executors." Initially funded with $47,019.46 from Mr. Rockwell's estate, Rockwell Fund will be augmented on the deaths of James's widow, Sarah (1943), daughter Lillian (1956), son James Wade (1962), niece Sylvia(1977) and son Henry (1978).

The Early Years

1931
  • After James M. Rockwell's death, Rockwell Fund is administered by his oldest son, James W. Rockwell, until his death in 1962.

1938
  • The first Rockwell Lecture is delivered at the Rice Institute by Canadian academic and bible scholar Sir Robert Alexander Falconer. The Rockwell Lecture, endowed by Rockwell Fund, is given annually and is the longest continuous lecture series at Rice University.

1943
  • Sarah Wade Rockwell, widow of James M. Rockwell, dies.

1949
  • The trust is reorganized as Rockwell Fund, Inc., a Texas not-for-profit corporation. Its charter recites that it is devoted to the "support of charitable, educational, or religious purpose or undertaking, including the disbursing of funds and rendering of assistance to the sick, poor and needy, and to churches, funds, trusts, foundations, community chests, and other organizations and institutions created or organized for exclusively charitable, educational or religious purposes."

1962
  • James Wade dies, and his younger brother Henry becomes president of Rockwell Lumber Company and Rockwell Fund.

1972
  • Joe M. Green, Jr., first cousin to the Rockwell brothers and a trustee since 1959, becomes president of Rockwell Fund, although day-to-day management is still carried out by Henry Rockwell.

1962-
1978

  • Rockwell Fund establishes a number of endowments with Houston nonprofits, including the SPCA, DePelchin Children's Center, St. John's Methodist Church and Methodist Hospital, as well as at Houston Baptist University, the University of Houston, Rice University, Southwestern University, Sam Houston State University and South Texas School of Law.

1978
  • Henry Rockwell, the last surviving child of James M. and Sarah Rockwell, dies in Houston. Joe Green, recently retired from the legal department of Gulf Oil, assumes management of Rockwell Fund, a position he retains until his death in 1994. Mr. Green was the last Rockwell family member to manage the Fund.

1979
  • Rockwell Lumber Company, all of whose outstanding stock is now owned by Rockwell Fund, sells its last remaining lumber yards.

1980
  • Rockwell Fund buys its first personal computer, an IBM with a 12-inch screen.

1986
  • Mary Jo Loyd is hired as the first Rockwell Fund staff member and performs duties of a position that would come to be called "program officer".

Moving Forward

1994
  • On the death of Joe Green, he is succeeded as president by R. Terry Bell, who became a trustee of Rockwell Fund in 1980. Rockwell Fund begins its transition from a family foundation to an independent one.

2000
  • Rockwell Fund reduces the number of grants in favor of increasing their average size, enabling the foundation to be more purposeful and, consequently, to give grants large enough to make worthwhile the effort to obtain one.

2003
  • Rockwell Fund embarks on its first collaborative venture when it serves as nominating funder for the Denver Harbor Clinic's application for a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Local Funding Partnership matching grant. Seven other Houston funders would join in this successful effort to raise approximately $1 million for Denver Harbor between 2003 and 2006.

2004
  • Rockwell Fund initiates the Zip Code Assistance Ministries Organizational Development Program, a pilot that provides networking, training and capacity building funds to faith-based community assistance ministries. The program will raise $2.3 million from 16 area funders over its three-year period. Following the success of the pilot, participating funders and ministries form the Alliance of Community Assistance Ministries (ACAM), now a separate 501(c)3 entity, with 13 participating assistance ministries.