W. B. & Candace Thoman Foundation, 222 N. Washington Square, Ste 400, Lansing, MI 48933; (517) 484-8282

W. B. & Candace Thoman Foundation
Family History

For over a century, the Thoman family has been prominent in the Lansing/East Lansing/MSU communities. In 1857, Frederick Thoman and an associate built the Oriental Mill, later named the Thoman Milling Company, in what is now downtown Lansing. The mill was a center of community life--it was not only a gristmill, but also furnished steam and water for many local businesses. Even then the Thomans had international connections, exporting the mill's products to Ireland, Cuba, and Columbia.

In 1882, a state-of-the-art Corliss engine was installed in the mill. The engine provided a tie to the nearby Michigan Agricultural College (now MSU), attracting engineering students who visited the mill to study the work-horse. The mill remained a model of the Industrial Revolution until it was destroyed in 1957.

W. B. (Bart) Thoman and his sister, Candace, channeled their energies to community service. Their extensive travels made them sensitive to the issues of world hunger and food security and heightened their interest in international students at MSU. So they became more closely involved with MSU through the Community Volunteers for International Programs, hosting international students and providing support through material items and services.

After W. B. Thoman died, Candace, as his only heir, worked to establish a foundation that would contribute to mid-Michigan and the entire world. In 1968, the Thoman Foundation was created to support educational programs in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Countries in Michigan.

Candace also worked closely with MSU President Emeritus John A. Hannah to establish a program that would have worldwide benefits. Thus in 1980, the W. B. And Candace Thoman Fellow Program in Hunger and Food Security was created to support students from developing nations who would return to their countries to help improve the situation of their own people. In 1982, the first fellows were selected and since then there have been about twelve fellows each year from countries throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Source : Ammar Gharbi.

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