Thomas Dennis Buckley was born in Missouri in December, 1897, to Dennis and Susan Buckley. His family, consisting of his Mom, Dad, Brothers Frank and John, Sister Elizabeth, and Tom moved to Lamar in 1906. Tom came to Chappell in 1917 with his brothers. They lived in a bunk house on wheels and hired out to break sod using a one-cylinder Rumley.
After serving one year in the military, he worked on the railroad for a few years before returning to Chappell. He started farming then until he died on June 12, 1979. 
Upon his death, a Private Foundation was formed. The Trustees sold his land in 1980 at record-high prices and invested the proceeds from the sale, as well as the investments that Tom had at the time of his death. 
The original Trustees when the Trust was established in 1979 at the time of Tom’s death were Walter (Ole) Peterson, Jim Jacobs, and Bill Hughes. Dwight Smith, Attorney, was Secretary, and Connie Loos was the Assistant Secretary. Jim Jacobs passed away in November of 1988 and Francis Kripal was appointed to fill his position. Walter Peterson passed away in February of 1994 and Dwight Smith was appointed as a Trustee.  Francis Kripal passed away in September of 2021 and Dale Fornander was appointed to fill his position.  Dale Fornander, Bill Hughes, and Dwight Smith are currently serving as Trustees, along with Connie Loos, the Executive Director of the Trust.


The first grant was made in June, 1981, for $25,106.11 to purchase a new ambulance for the City of Chappell. The first year the Trustees awarded $181,974.61 in grants. 
Since then grant distributions gradually increased yearly.
The total amount of grants awarded through May 31, 2023, was $21,118,730.00. 
  • Chappell has received $13,032,211.00 or 61.71% of all grants awarded.
  • Lodgepole - $974,013.00
  • Big Springs - $1,207,608.00
  • Sidney - $1,274,209.00 
  • Oshkosh - $980,554.00 and
  • Julesburg - $1,323,728.00


High schools scholarships - $20,000 yearly 
Started in 1989, a total of $689,250, through this past school year, has been awarded to graduating high school seniors from Chappell, Lodgepole (Now Creek Valley), Garden County, South Platte, Julesburg, and Revere schools.
Continuing Ed Scholarships - $20,000 yearly 
In addition, the Trust awards $20,000 of scholarships to students who have graduated from the same schools, but are currently enrolled in college seeking Associate Degrees or Bachelor Degrees.