BAUE FAMILY CHARITABLE TRUST’S JOHN DEVANEY NAMED ST. CHARLES COUNTY TREE OF LIGHTS CHAIR
The Baue family in St. Charles County has been a staunch supporter of The Salvation Army since the mid-20th century, including Arthur C. Baue helping to open the first Salvation Army corps there in 1958.
For four years prior, Baue operated the Salvation Army service extension unit, which is a Salvation Army location without officers. Fifteen years before that, The Salvation Army became an active presence in St. Charles County.
It makes sense that the Chair of this year’s St. Charles County Tree of Lights campaign is John Devaney, the great grandson of Arthur Baue, the family that has made a name for itself locally over decades as the proprietor of Baue Funeral Homes.
Devaney is tasked with helping to meet this year’s St. Charles County Tree of Lights fundraising goal of $725,000, a $50,000 increase from last year.
The chairman took a few moments to speak before presenting a $10,000 check to The Salvation Army, on behalf of his Baue Charitable Family Fund, at the annual St. Charles County Tree of Lights luncheon.
Q: What is it like being the St. Charles County Tree of Lights Chair?
It’s an honor to do it because of my family’s rich history with the Salvation Army. I’ve been on the advisory board for a number of years – I can’t even keep track [how long it's been]. My great grandfather helped start the first corps in St. Charles County, Arthur C. Baue. They had a service extension team that helped with the Salvation Army’s message and mission here in St. Charles County, but they didn’t have a corps. They brought the corps in and opened it on September 21, 1958. My grandfather David Baue served as head of the advisory board, and my mom served as president of advisory board. Now to serve as the chair of the Tree of Lights, it’s just a great honor for me.
Q: What are your memories of The Salvation Army growing up?
Growing up, we always rang the bell. Even as a teenager and kid. We didn’t know for a long time that my grandma Jill Baue, my grandpa David’s wife, she rang the bell every Christmas Eve on her birthday, at the Dierbergs there in St. Charles. We had no idea that she did that for years. We started carrying on the tradition. Also, we always believed in giving back to children at Christmastime, and families that needed help.
Q: How do you fulfill the Tree of Lights goal?
We start off with this, donations from the luncheon, and it helps bring in [more] money for donations. A lot of people leave money at the table and the kettle. There is the tree-lighting in Dardenne Prairie, where they do the same thing. The message starts spreading through social media. That’s when our bellringers start going to stores. That’s where we really raise a lot of our money.
Q: What is St. Charles like as a community?
It always has been, as long as I can remember, a community, the business owners, the people, is generous and cares about each other. It was such a small community for a long time. It grew and grew. In the city of St. Charles alone, there are 80,000 people. In the county, there are 400,000. It was half that 20-plus years ago. People just love this community. They’re attracted to it, for various reasons. We just find everyone comes together as a community and helps those that are in need the most.
Q: What does Tree of Lights mean to you?
As an advisory board member, it means a lot. This is where we really raise the money to help the families in St. Charles County. We do fundraisers and different things throughout the year, but this is what sets us up for the year. This is what gives us the opportunity to supply the pantry. We get a lot of donations from businesses helping to supply the pantry and food drive. This money is what helps us keep our shelters nice, keep the pantry stocked, and help families that are in need, out here.
Q: What did you learn from your family members being Tree of Lights Chair?
My mom and I also just started the Baue Family Charitable Fund. It’s been almost two years now. It’s been an example, instilled in our family since my great grandfather, giving back to your community. We’ve done that through the years in our funeral home, Baue Funeral Homes, and this is an opportunity for us to give back on a major higher level. Seeing that and being raised believing in that, has been special for me.
Q: You donated the poinsettias today?
Baue Funeral Homes and Parkview Gardens both donated the poinsettias.
Q: How does Baue Funeral Homes get involved in The Salvation Army?
Baue Funeral Homes does a food drive for the Salvation Army every year. We started this Baue Family Charitable Fund. So, now what we do is buy gifts for the children and the parents, hygiene products, things like that, and bring in Santa Claus for them at the shelter in O’Fallon. That’s something we continue to do, as well as Baue Funeral Homes does the food drive, and then we always bell-ring on Christmas Eve, in honor of my grandmother. The Baue Family Charitable Fund is giving $10,000 today to kick off the Tree of Lights.