The Brock Family: Generosity Through Generations

 

The W. E. Brock family has been in Chattanooga for five generations. Shortly after his arrival from the Carolinas, W. E. started a candy company that he renamed Brock Candy Company. His two sons, W.E. Jr. and Richard, stewarded the company for decades. His grandsons furthered his legacy of service and excellence. One became a US Senator, another became president of Brock Candy Company, and the youngest grandson, Frank Brock, went on to become president of Covenant College after working for the company himself. After selling Brock Candy Company in 1994 to Brach’s Confections (you’ve probably had their candy corn), he dedicated himself to Covenant College, the community of Chattanooga, and his grandchildren. In 2010, Frank Brock and his two brothers were recognized with the History Makers Award from the Chattanooga History Center. We got to sit down with one of Frank Brock’s grandchildren, Banner Brock, to talk to him about generational giving and the lasting legacy of his grandparents, Frank and Dottie.

“I’ve always been aware of my grandparents’ generosity, and not just in the sense that they spoiled me in the way grandparents tend to do,” says Banner. Banner learned from an early age that generosity is not just about donating money; it’s a way of seeing all facets of life.

When he was a young child, Banner recalls that Frank and Dottie dedicated specific time and effort to him, teaching him to garden and clean up after himself, even though he was one of twenty-one grandchildren. “They wanted me to understand that we are stewards in this world,” recalls Banner. “We are temporary owners of property, time, energy, and money to use for the good of others and the Kingdom of God.” Banner remembers what his grandfather used to say, “People need to recognize what they have been given and treat it right. It’s like the difference between renting and owning a house. You take much better care of things when you take ownership of it,” even though we are only temporary stewards of what God has given us.

For the Brocks, generosity extends beyond the monetary and into hard work. Taking ownership means taking time and effort toward real change and improvement. Since retiring, Frank and Dottie have never stopped serving. Retirement for them means “less time at work, more time for service elsewhere.” In addition to donating generously, they tutor underprivileged children in the community, make meals for those in need, and pray constantly. Furthermore, they have incorporated their family into all that they do. According to Banner, being included in his grandparent’s projects, “showed that service isn’t something you do on the side, it’s a way of life. Our family recently built a small gazebo at the end of the walkway by Thrive, an assisted-living community. We all contributed small amounts of time and labor to create something for others to enjoy. That was special.”

One lesson from Frank and Dottie that has stuck with Banner is the need to venture out of social circles and create community and relationships with people who are not like us. As his grandparents would tell him, “a big problem today is that most people who went to college are not close to anyone who did not go to college. We are disconnected from people different from us, and that lack of empathy leads to a lot of our societal issues.” In addition to issues like world hunger, Banner is particularly passionate about serving the Hispanic/Latino community. At Clemson, he was the only non-Hispanic to serve on the President’s Commission for Latino Affairs. Says Banner, “blossoming a relationship with that community through the Chattanooga Football Club and Chattanooga Sports Ministries in high school really grew my heart for the Hispanic culture as well as their struggle.” Banner is grateful for his grandparent’s example and wishes to continue his family’s legacy of hard work and generosity.

We at The Generosity Trust have had the pleasure of serving families like the Brocks and witness the significance of their generations of generosity. Visit us here if you would like to learn more about our donor-advised funds and how we help families facilitate Christian generosity.

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