After moving to Columbus from Wichita, Kansas in 1934, White Castle restaurants partnered with Ohio State University, providing scholarships to students of agriculture and what was referred to as “meat science.” So it was no surprise that back in the late 1990s the Ingram family, who founded and still own the company, donated $300,000 towards a $1 million park dedicated to contributions of women, naming it in honor of Chlois Guy Ingram, an active OSU hospital “gray lady” in the 1950s and‘60s. "Gray Ladies" referred to American Red Cross volunteers who wrote letters, read, and provided other non-medical comfort to patients, also acting as guides at information desks and elsewhere around the hospital.
The wife of second-generation owner Edgar W. Ingram, Jr., Chlois passed away too soon at age 61 in 1978. “We all felt that Mom was our spirit and she championed all of us,” daughter Maryann Kelley told the Columbus Dispatch. “She taught us it was really important to give to the community, not just monetarily, but with your time, too.”
A loving wife, mother, and grandmother, Chlois backed up her words with action. Married in 1939, the “the Queen of our Castle,” as she was fondly called, Chlois and Edgar populated White Castle’s third generation with four children -- Nancy Ingram Sanford, Alice Ingram, Maryann Ingram Kelley, and Edgar W. “Bill” Ingram III. Much of her volunteer work centered around causes helpful to both mothers and children. Along with being active in the Worthington Women’s Club and supporting the Columbus Cancer Clinic, she was a founding member of the Women’s Juvenile Service board which created the Buckeye Boy’s Ranch, helping to establish its first building.
The family continues the spirit of giving, supporting OSU and the Medical Center through
donations to the Comprehensive Cancer Center, Wexner Center for the Arts and the remodeling of the William Oxley Thompson Library as well as supporting scholarship events for Hospitality Management, to mention a few.
Most recently, in 2011, Bill and Marci Ingram announced a $10 million gift to the Ohio State University and Nationwide Children’s Hospital to establish the Ingram Comprehensive Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders in support of collaborative autism research. “We know Ohio State has a wealth of resources and can develop impactful and novel supports for children and families impacted by autism,” Bill has said. “There are a lot of ways to help, teach, and support these kids.”
His mother would have agreed. And her legacy, “with a spirit of caring, compassion and kindness, the nourishment she shared healed hearts and restored hope” inscribed on the monument in both the original and new parks, continues to grow.