Published: Spring 2003 in Giving

An Enduring Legacy

After years of supporting scholarships at Westmont through the Myatt W. Volentine Foundation, Myatt and Mary Genevieve Volentine also made a significant provision for the college in their Volentine Charitable Remainder Unitrust.

Myatt passed away in 2001 at the age of 93, and Mary Genevieve followed him a little more than a year later. Their generous, one-time legacy will fund the Myatt and Mary Genevieve Volentine Endowed Scholarship and help deserving students attend Westmont.

Although his schooling ended in ninth grade, Myatt Volentine believed strongly in the value of education. An adept businessman who succeeded in many different ventures, Myatt was committed to supporting community organizations. He and his wife, Mary Genevieve, established the Volentine Foundation to carry out their philanthropic interests.

The Volentines’ daughter, Diane Hayes, serves as president of the foundation, which focuses on youth, higher education and health-related issues. Her parents had a special interest in funding scholarships and hospitals.

Over the years, the Volentine Foundation has supported the Care Program at Santa Barbara City College, Casa Serena, Al-Anon, New House, the Rehabilitation Institute, the Rescue Mission and the YMCA in Santa Barbara, as well as organizations in McCook, Neb.

Claudette Sabiron, who worked for the Volentines for more than 30 years, serves on the foundation’s board with Diane. “The Volentines were much more than bosses,” she says. “They were like another set of parents. They were close friends.”

Diane describes Claudette as a “very trusted, very valued friend.” With the assistance of a third trustee, Rick Nightingale, the two women carry on the Volentines’ philanthropic tradition.

Born in Broken Arrow, Okla., and raised in Arkansas, Myatt left home at a young age, supporting himself by trading furs. His next venture was selling cars, which led him to open a car agency before he was old enough to drive. A successful businessman as a teenager, he added two other car agencies within a few years. After selling these businesses, he settled in McCook, Neb., in 1932, where he built another dealership into a thriving enterprise.

When Myatt needed a secretary, a fellow car dealer recommended his daughter, Mary Genevieve Bell. Myatt not only hired her, but eventually married her. The couple raised their three children in McCook, where they were actively involved in the community. Myatt served on the McCook School Board and was president of the Chamber of Commerce.

In 1960, Myatt thought about retiring, and the family moved to Santa Barbara, where they had friends. Keeping his business in McCook, Myatt acquired the Magnolia Shopping Center and Casitas Pass Shopping Center. A few years earlier, he began buying mineral rights and drilling for oil. His investment paid off in 1960 when he struck oil in Kansas.

A lifelong member of the Assistance League, Mary Genevieve was gifted in arts and crafts and helped put on charity events for the league and the Women’s Club.

The Volentines set up a unitrust to receive income while they lived and support organizations they valued after they died. Their commitment to helping their communities lives on through the unitrust and the foundation.

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