Fortmiller Family Lighting the Way

Dana Preston and Gladys Fortmiller

Fortmiller family still ‘paying back’

The Fortmiller Family tradition of supporting the Ashland community, including their local hospital has continued to shine brightly, long after the Fortmiller Department Store left the downtown Plaza. The store was founded in 1935 by Charles Fortmiller and son Dave took over management in the 1950s. Decades of doing business in Ashland instilled in the family a tradition of giving back.

Dave and Gladys Fortmiller began their support of the Ashland Community Hospital Foundation in 1979 and were one of the first to contribute to Lights for Life, which was established in 1987, as a way to honor and remember loved ones, celebrate milestones and express gratitude during the holiday season.

Lights for Life is dear to Gladys who has nurtured in her children and grandchildren the tradition of giving. Over the past three decades, numerous lights on the Foundation’s trees have stood for the Fortmillers’ philanthropy.

“We’ve always had this culture of giving of yourself,” said Dana Preston, the granddaughter of Gladys and the late Dave Fortmiller. “It’s means something a little different to everyone, but we recognize it as one of our most important values,” shared Dana, membership and business-development director for the Ashland Chamber of Commerce. “Whether it’s giving of our time, resources or giving of our service.”

Dana notes her grandfather, was passionate about the hospital and Foundation.

“A great outpouring of donations” followed Dave’s death in 2011 at age 87 and Gladys specified the Foundation as recipient of gifts in her husband’s memory, honoring his legacy of “paying back to Ashland.”

Now 91, Gladys remains active. Never one to seek out recognition, Gladys has volunteered her time and financial resources over the years toward many state and local causes, from political committees to theater companies, said Dana.

Modestly maintaining she’s not a “huge donor,” Gladys said she typically pledges $100 to $200 toward one more twinkle of color on each Lights for Life tree.

“I’m always surprised to hear how much we’ve given over the years,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how much you give. It all adds up and makes a difference.”

If you would like to join the Fortmiller Family in making a Lights for Life donation, your tax-deductible gift will be symbolized with a light on a community tree in Ashland and in Talent. Those honored will receive a Lights for Life holiday card. You and your honorees will be recognized in the Ashland Daily Tidings and Medford Mail Tribune in December, and the Ashland Sneak Preview and Talent News & Review in January, unless you choose to be anonymous.

Make the season brighter and shine a light for someone special by making a secure online donation or by calling Stephanie Roland at 541-201-4019.