A “Tremendous Way to Give Back”: Retired Ravens Honored With Endowments

  • Ravens Rewind
A “Tremendous Way to Give Back”: Retired Ravens Honored With Endowments
David Klein

From Tucker Street’s first teacher to the longest-serving high school football coach in North Carolina, these Ravens are celebrated in perpetuity thanks to the many people whose lives they touched.

When longtime Athletic Director Ned Gonet announced in the summer of 2022 that the upcoming season — his 42nd at Ravenscroft — would be his last as head varsity football coach, the scores of student-athletes whose lives and playing careers he’d touched knew they wanted to send him off right.

In addition to gathering on the field during half-time of his last home game and returning the next night for a program of testimonials, memories and the presentation of a goat statue to commemorate his standing as the GOAT (Greatest of All Time), football alumni and their families honored Gonet with the creation of a new endowed fund in his name.

In so doing, these generous Ravens were taking part in another time-honored tradition of the school: establishing an endowment in recognition of a retiring member of the faculty and staff.

“When longstanding faculty and staff leave, and they’ve touched enough folks that they feel strongly compelled to create a legacy for these people through an endowment, that’s an incredible thing,” Director of Strategic Philanthropy Ben Rein said. “That legacy of impact, memorializing their traits and attributes, brings it forward in an enduring way for the community.”

Ravenscroft’s endowments provide a crucial source of funding that touches every division and department of the school — from academics to financial aid to leadership development and more. The funds that follow were created to celebrate members of Ravenscroft’s faculty and staff upon or following their retirement.

Academic Excellence: Annie Tongue Fund (1962)

The school’s first faculty endowment is named in honor of Annie Hardy Tongue, one of the original teachers at the Tucker Street primary school. Described by colleagues as “formidable” and “a born educator,” she was moved to open a private school in her home partly due to her disenchantment with conditions in the city’s public schools. In 1937, she was the first teacher hired at the parish school soon to be named Ravenscroft, and she brought her child-centered, nurturing atmosphere to the school. When she retired in 1963, after 25 years fully invested in the success and growth of the school and its community, her friends established the Annie Tongue Fund, which continues to support the Lower School today.

As related in “The Story of a Southern School,” an account of Ravenscroft’s early history, Tongue was able to visit the site of the new north Raleigh campus in November 1969, a month before her death.

Tucker Street teacher Annie Tongue, in an undated photo from the Ravenscroft archives

Unrestricted Support: Joyce Browning Fund (1992)

Ravenscroft’s earliest students on the north Raleigh campus are likely to remember Joyce Browning: in the Dec. 17, 1971, Nevarmore student newspaper, she was described as “probably the most important lady on the Upper School staff.” She began working at Ravenscroft in the late 1960s at the Tucker Street location and moved with the school to its new campus, where her three sons — Lyle ’77, Bill ’78 and John ’80 (now deceased) — would be students as well. She worked in many roles over the years, including Secretary to the Headmaster and Admissions Director, until her departure in 1980. She continued her work in schools, leading a successful endowment campaign at St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock, Virginia.

Friends and family later established this fund to recognize her many years of service to Ravenscroft.

Joyce Browning in the 1976 Corvus, when she was Secretary to the President and Coordinator of Personnel Services

Spirituality: Cherie Fowler FCA Endowment Fund (2006)

Cherie Fowler was a beloved physical education teacher and coach who brought out the best in her athletes with an approach that combined hard work, fun and pure love. Her students remember her as having a life-changing effect on them as athletes, students and people. Friends honored her in 2006, the year of her retirement, with the Cherie Fowler FCA Endowment Fund, which supports the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a campus organization she led for much of her tenure at Ravenscroft. She was also inducted into the Class of 1862, bestowing upon her honorary alumni status.

When Fowler passed away in 2021, Gretchen Presnell Hyde ’04 wrote, “Coach Fowler’s impact and legacy will undoubtedly carry on in the countless students she made such an impact on and continues to shape today.”

Cherie Fowler in 2006, the year she retired

Fine Arts and Aesthetics: Jack and Marilyn Budrow Strings Endowment Fund (2011)

Marilyn Budrow started the school’s group strings program in 1982, and it remains a foundational part of Ravenscroft’s fine arts program. Starting first in the Lower School, Budrow stayed with her students as they progressed, moving with them into Middle School and then Upper School. Her husband, Jack Budrow, a renowned symphony bass player, served Ravenscroft as well, as both an artist-in-residence and a private strings instructor.

Director of Fine Arts David McChesney characterized both Marilyn, who passed away in 2019, and Jack as “giving, caring and nurturing.” The fund, created in recognition of their years of service to the Fine Arts Department, supports the strings program, providing key funds for new instruments and upkeep.

Jack and Marilyn Budrow with their daughter, longtime Upper School math teacher Kat Belk, during a visit to the school after their retirement

Financial Aid: Leonard Johnson Endowment Fund (2022)

Leonard Johnson served as Associate Head of School for Business and Finance for 27 years, overseeing, safeguarding and growing the school’s financial resources and stewarding Ravenscroft through years of steady growth. Under his guidance, the school’s endowment grew from nearly $5M to more than $28M. Upon his retirement in 2022, current and former board members honored his service with the Leonard Johnson Endowment Fund, which supports financial aid.

As Head of School Doreen Kelly said to Johnson during the announcement, “You have done it all at Ravenscroft, and your steady hand has allowed us to thrive in the most challenging of times. We have been blessed by your care, your commitment and your leadership.”

Leonard Johnson in 2021

Health and Wellness: Gonet Football Endowment (2022)

During Ned Gonet’s 42-year coaching career at Ravenscroft — now the longest high school coaching tenure in North Carolina — he was named Conference Coach of the Year eight times and State Coach of the Year twice and was inducted into the school’s Sports Hall of Fame. He said he holds the creation of this fund, which will support the football program in perpetuity, in the same high esteem as his numerous other career honors.

“This is another tremendous way to give back, not only from my standpoint but also to benefit the school,” Gonet, who remains the school’s AD, said. “I’ve been fortunate to coach some outstanding young people, and I appreciate the fact that they found a way to give back in so many different ways, including establishing an endowment.”

Ned Gonet on Oct. 28, 2022, the day of his last home game as head football coach

Learn more about endowment funds and other ways to support Ravenscroft through giving on our website.

At top, Ned Gonet with Aiden Whitehead ’24 during warm-ups before his last home game as head varsity football coach; longtime Tucker Street teacher Annie Tongue with her second-grade class in the 1962-63 school year

Jimmy Cox, second from left, poses with 2021 Cox Cup winners Thomas Sigmon ’13, Carr Walker ’13 and Reeves Zaytoun ’11.


Ravens have celebrated the lasting contributions of teachers, coaches and staff through other special gifts and honors.

Remembering Clarke Worthington, Namesake of Character Award
(Summer 2022)

Cox Cup Honors Longtime Boys Golf Coach Jimmy Cox
(Spring 2022)

Anonymous Gift Honors the Legacy of “Coach P”
(Fall 2021)

Ravens Reflect on Receiving the Ione D. Pegram Award
(Fall 2021)

New Wrestling Practice Center Announced; Retired Coach Ed Durham Honored with Weight Room Dedication
(Jan. 8, 2020)

Ravenscroft Community Celebrates the Naming of Billerman Court on Dec. 20
(Jan. 3, 2020)