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Elmer and Mary Beth Vanous

Elmer and Mary Beth Vanous were lifelong David City residents and active in their community. A gift was made to the Butler County Area Foundation Fund in their name. Mary Beth passed away in 2002, Elmer in 2005.

Elmer and Mary Beth Vanous would be pleased.

Their family recently made a gift in their name to the Butler County Area Foundation Fund in the amount of $30,000. Lifelong residents of David City, Mary Beth Vanous died in 2002; Elmer Vanous in 2005.

 “Our parents passed quite a few years ago having lived their whole lives in David City, and the money we've donated came from them,” said their son Jim Vanous, who lives in Lincoln. “That's the reason we chose to use their name on our donation. It was their money and I think they'd be proud to know it's going back to their community.”

The Vanous boys graduated from Aquinas. Mike graduated in 1968, John in 1969, Tom in 1972, and Jim in 1977.

There was no doubt that Elmer and Mary Beth loved their community, Mike Vanous said.

"To our parents, David City was always home. There was never any talk of wanting to live elsewhere,” Mike said.

Mary Beth grew up in David City and was the daughter of Don D. and Fannie Davis, who owned the local Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealership for many years.

Elmer Vanous also grew up here, one of five children of Louis and Mollie Vanous.

“When he started school he knew very little English, Czech was spoken in their home. They both went to public school but were several years apart so did not really know each other,” Jim said.

Learning responsibility was key in the Vanous household. A character builder was the paper route.

“It was our responsibility to get the papers delivered on time, even in bad weather, and then to collect payments, either weekly or monthly. We had responsibility to our customers and to our employer,” Jim said.

The Vanous couple also was busy with service work. For Elmer, coaching baseball came after a full day of work at the local gas company. He retired in 1983.

“They taught us ‘giving back’ by example. Dad by coaching the Pony League team for 8-10 years, mostly while we boys were playing. I remember Dad running practices in his work uniform and work boots,” Jim said. “We were in two leagues, the Seward league and the Schuyler league, so we were practicing or playing four days a week. He had to make a lot of phone calls too, rescheduling rainouts, working out tournament details and the like. My brother Tom and I both coached our kids’ sports teams, probably due to the example we had growing up.”

Once the baseball season was over, the Vanous family was off for a vacation.

Mary Beth gave her time to service at the Congregational Church, where she printed bulletins and played the organ.

“I recall her swearing - mildly, but you knew she was serious - at the mimeograph machine when it wouldn't cooperate. She also belonged to the VFW Auxiliary and PEO. But her main ‘job’ was raising her four sons and we challenged her plenty,” Jim said.

Mary Beth had another distinction, which she owed to having the last name of Davis before she was married. When she graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1949, her photo was on the same yearbook page as a fellow named Johnny Carson.

The Vanous gift was made with fortunate timing for BCAFF. It was made at the beginning of the Looking Forward-Giving Back Campaign, so it will be matched by $15,000 from the Sherwood Foundation.

Working through the Nebraska Community Foundation, the Sherwood Foundation is matching every $2 in contributions with $1, up to $100,000 to be raised by the end of December 2018. The funds raised during the campaign go into the BCAFF unrestricted endowment.

"We were thrilled to hear from the Vanous family about this gift," said Larry Peirce, chair of the campaign that officially begins at the Butler County Fair. "This is a great example for others to follow. Every contribution, large or small, brings us closer to our goal."

The all-volunteer Fund Advisory Committee uses income from the unrestricted endowment to make grants to local projects and programs that fit the grant criteria. The goal is to make grants that improve the quality of life in all the communities of Butler County. Since BCAFF was founded in 1982, more than $500,000 has been re-invested into the community.

Become a Builder

For the contribution of $1,000, you can become a member of the BCAFF Builders Club. Because of our Builders and other generous donors over the past three decades, BCAFF is able to continue investing in Butler County’s future.

If you have questions about making a tax-deductible contribution to BCAFF, contact one of our Fund Advisory Committee members: Milt and Janet Bemis, Kent Clymer, Diane Duren, Carol Fuxa, Amy Slama, Ed Siffring, Robin Sullivan, Lindsay Truksa. Mike Moravec is the committee chairman. BCAFF is an affiliated fund of the Nebraska Community Foundation.

Get involved

For more information about the Looking Forward-Giving Back Campaign, send an email to, or call 402-875-2073. The BCAFF postal address is P.O. Box 91, David City, NE 68632.


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