United Way of Lamar County History

A Brief History  1943-1993


During World War II Paris had three local men – Dr. L.B. Stephens, J.A. McGill, and Sam Weiss, who served as Texas State Directors of the National War Chest. War Chest directors’ responsibilities included the raising of local funds to assist the U.S.O.

These men saw an opportunity to include local youth and social welfare agencies with the War Chest drive and one united effort to raise funds for all.

After contacting some local business people about the possibility of a “Community Chest” for Paris, and receiving a positive reaction of eleven to one, letters were mailed to prominent citizens inviting them to an organization meeting at the Chamber of Commerce on August 24, 1943.

J.A. McGill presided over the meeting with Louis B. Williams as the acting secretary. The minutes reflect considerable discussion with unanimous approval to appoint an executive committee for the purpose of selecting a board of directors to govern the fund raising efforts of a “Community Chest”.

On August 26, 1943 the Executive Committee appointed to nominate directors for the Community Chest selected and placed in office the first board.

A goal of $62,000.00 was set for the first Community Chest drive; $34,000.00 to be allocated to Community Chest agencies with $28,000.00 to be given to the U.S.O. for the War Chest. The $62,000.00 goal of 1943 is equivalent to $508,000.00 of 1993 dollars according the U.S. Government officials.

Four youth welfare agencies were included in the 1943 united drive for Community and War Chest funds. These agencies were Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, King’s Daughters, and the Salvation Army. Fifty years later these same four agencies are included with eleven additional ones to make up the fifteen.