In the summer of 2019, the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation and our Northwest Corner lost someone near and dear to us. James A. Garfield or “Jim” as most everyone called him, passed away at his home in Fort Myers, Florida with his wife, Nancy, by his side.

Jim and Nancy were the impetus for immeasurable positive growth in Northwest Connecticut. Long-time Torrington residents, they were deeply connected to the community and especially immersed in the arts. Jim sang in the choir at the Trinity Episcopal Church, and he and Nancy served as chaperones for the young Chorus Angelicus singers of Joyful Noise as they traveled across New England for performances.

For more than 40 years, Jim worked in banking. It was through a position as senior vice president, trust administration with Bank of America that he began his involvement with the Community Foundation, and changed Northwest Connecticut for the better. At the time, the Foundation Trust—which under Jim’s leadership would grow to become the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, had assets invested at several Northwest Connecticut banks. Trustee officers from those banks managed the funds. Grants were awarded with the help of dedicated volunteers.

In 1996, when Jim retired, Foundation volunteers asked him to take the reins and serve as the then named Torrington Area Foundation for Public Giving’s first staff member and first CEO/Executive Director.

Jim gave the Foundation its first physical office, created a corporate form of the foundation called the Northwest Connecticut Community Foundation, and expanded the foundation’s territory from Torrington and the surrounding communities to 12 towns in Northwest Connecticut.

He and Nancy helped establish the Women & Girls Fund, the Community Foundation’s Youth in Philanthropy Initiative, and the Northwest CT Arts Council, which has grown to become a hub for all aspects of Northwest Connecticut cultural information and resources.

Jim worked tirelessly alongside volunteers and professional advisors to increase bequests to the Foundation. Under his leadership, Community Foundation assets grew from $2.5 million to about $10 million, and grants and scholarships awarded annually grew from $113,000 to $473,648.

Art, Community and Caring
Jim and Nancy Garfield established two funds with the Community Foundation, the Jim & Nancy Garfield Fund for the Arts and the Jim and Nancy Garfield Compassion Fund. As a celebration of their love for the arts, theater and music, the couple established the Jim & Nancy Garfield Fund for the Arts in 2002. The Fund supports arts organizations and programming within Northwest Connecticut.

In 2016, through their estate planning, Jim and Nancy established the Jim and Nancy Garfield Compassion Fund. The Fund, which will be funded through their estate, assists the most vulnerable citizens of Torrington by supporting immediate basic needs, including rent, food, heating, utilities, elderly and child care, medical expenses and disaster-recovery assistance.

Recent Grants from the Jim & Nancy Garfield Fund for the Arts

  • The American Mural Project
  • KidsPlay Children’s Museum
  • Northwest Connecticut Arts Council
  • Warner Theatre

To make a gift to the Jim & Nancy Garfield Fund for the Arts and/or the Jim and Nancy Garfield Compassion Fund, visit northwestcf.org/donate

Contact your Community Foundation staff at: (860) 626-1245 to discuss your charitable giving options and goals.