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Giving Back, the "Chesbro Heritage"

Giving Back, the

One of Idaho's most successful family owned music establishments, Chesbro Music Co., celebrated 101 years in business in 2012. Chesbro Music's Chief Executive Officer Vanetta Chesbro Wilson is a member of ICF's Upper Snake River Valley Leadership Council and her sister Tana Jane Stahn is Chesbro Music's Chief Financial Officer.

The Chesbro family has a long history with ICF. They established one of the foundation's earliest funds and later established a second one.

"Giving back to the community and helping others is and was a big part of our culture growing up and has been part of the 'Chesbro Heritage,'" Vanetta said.

Founded in 1911 in Seattle by Vanetta and Tana's great-grandfather, Horace Chesbro, the store moved to Idaho in 1911 and to Idaho Falls in 1921. Over the years it grew from a local music retailer to a distributor serving dealers in the western United States for instruments. Chesbro remains one of the largest distributors of print music in the United States.

Much of the growth came during the leadership of Vanetta and Tana's mother Joan Chesbro Thomas. Joan was a graduate of Idaho Falls High School, Stevens College in Missouri and Stanford University. She was a management trainee at a National Bank in San Francisco when she learned her parents Henry and Mary Jane Chesbro and her only brother Paul Chesbro had been killed in a plane crash. She returned to Idaho Falls to join her grandmother Ella Chesbro in running the family business.

The company grew and flourished under the leadership of Joan, Ella and a great management team. Joan was a woman who headed a company at a time when there weren't a lot of women CEOs, Vanetta said.

"She has been a great role model to me and my sister and to many other women business professionals in our community," she said.

Joan established the Chesbro Family Music Fund at ICF in 1992 to support and enhance music in eastern Idaho. It was ICFs 69th fund and the fifth one established in eastern Idaho. Today ICF has more than 475 funds. Vanetta and Tana make decisions about how the fund should be distributed every year.

Following their mother's passing, Vanetta and Tana established the Chesbro Philanthropic Gift Fund in Joan's memory in 2002. Distributions from this fund advance music programs and music education in southeast Idaho.

"ICF brings funding resources together and helps organizations become aware of funds that are available for their needs," Tana said. "Idaho citizens are very generous and want to give people a helping hand. It means a lot to be able to help people in your own area and state."


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