Herschel V. Jenkins was one of the original founders of United Way of the Coastal Empire. A former publisher of the Savannah Morning News and the Savannah Evening Press, Jenkins was a community-building pioneer who believed in the importance of the United Way of the Coastal Empire. Jenkins’s dedication to his community was evidenced by his involvement in key United Way volunteer positions, serving as third Board Chair and fourth Campaign Chair.
July 1997 was an important point in history for the Coastal Empire community. The United Way of the Coastal Empire officially learned of Jenkins’s bequest, which has enabled the organization to deliver on its promise to eliminate the deduction of administrative costs as part of the annual campaign. Jenkins had, in 1955, set aside a trust in the amount of $500,000 for UCS (United Community Services of Savannah-Chatham County – a former name of the United Way of the Coastal Empire); by 1997 that amount had grown to $13 million. With the corpus remaining intact, the accruing income has provided for and continues to be used for administrative and yearly campaign costs. Because of a generous gift from one person, United Way has the resources that enable the allocation of all donated funds to go directly to agencies and programs.
Our community owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to Herschel V. Jenkins for his philanthropic foresight, and we will continue to honor his memory by touching as many lives as possible.
Herschel V. Jenkins was born in Effingham County, GA, on October 5, 1871. He moved to Savannah, GA, in 1888 to work as a clerk in the Central Railroad and Banking Company. He then worked for the Central of Georgia Railway and the Ocean Steamship Company for 38 years before entering the newspaper business at the age of 55 in 1926. He retired as publisher and president of the Savannah News-Press in 1957 at the age of 86.
Other areas of philanthropy that commanded his support were the chairmanship of Armstrong State College and other educational projects as attested by the naming of the Herschel Jenkins High School. He was also chairman of the Highway Commission of Georgia and was instrumental to the building of the Talmadge Bridge, among many other improvements within the community.