Even after his passing earlier this year, longtime Van Buren businessman and philanthropist Ed Yeager continues to make an impact on area youth.


His family’s foundation donated $30,000 to the Boys & Girls Club of Van Buren in October to help keep the doors open. Shirley Yeager, wife of the late Ed Yeager, was on hand for the donation.


The funds will help support day-to-day club operations, as the organization continues to serve youth every day through sports and after-school programming amid the challenges of the COVID pandemic.


"This donation will help keep our doors open," said Boys & Girls Club of Van Buren Executive Director Cindy Faldon. "Like many other nonprofits, our organization has been deeply affected by COVID. We have incurred unexpected costs and experienced a decline in revenue because of the ripple effect of the virus."


Despite the challenges, the club has continued to provide crucial services to its members. Currently, the club is at capacity in its after-school program and it is gearing up for its winter sports season.


"This is such a timely gift and we are grateful that Shirley chose to honor Ed’s memory in a way that benefits so many," Faldon added.


The Boys & Girls Club held a special place in Ed Yeager’s heart. As a youth, Ed attended what was then called the Boys Club located on Wheeler Avenue in Fort Smith. His father, also a business owner, worked long hours, and his mother did not drive, so Ed rode the bus.


"He would always say the club kept him out of trouble when he was younger," Faldon added.


Ed and Shirley were faithful contributors to the club in Van Buren and played a key role in its expansion and rapid growth over the past decade. In 2011, the Yeager family donated $100,000 for the club’s building expansion. They continued to support the club through sponsorships and other contributions, and by attending Club fundraising events.


"There is no way to measure the impact that Ed and Shirley have had on our Club and community," noted Boys & Girls Club of Van Buren Board Chair Brad Martin. "Thousands of youths have been served by our Club over the years and that in turn has helped strengthen our region. We owe them a great deal and are thankful for their continued support. The Yeagers’ generosity is truly an example to all."