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Bishops of Bradenton

Bishops of Bradenton

By Sarah Fish

Some of the richest additions to the Bradenton community all have one thing in common: generations of the Bishop family’s philanthropy and generous contributions to those in need.

The Edward E. and Lillian H. Bishop Foundation, established in 1953, has awarded millions of dollars over the years to not-for-profits and charities throughout the Bradenton and Sarasota communities.

The South Florida Museum in the heart of downtown Bradenton is considered one of the city’s most valuable assets and attractions. Also known as The Bishop Museum and Planetarium, its artifact exhibit and aquarium give the community up-close access to the unique history and biodiversity of this area, and a look into deep space. If you ever had the chance to visit our Manatee County mascot, Snooty, in his state-of-the-art aquarium, you can thank the Bishop Foundation for making that possible.

Coming from wealthy families, Edward (Ned) and Lillian (Patty) Bishop were active philanthropists in the Bradenton and Sarasota communities their entire lives. Between traveling extensively and spending summers on their 350-acre Maryland farm, Ned and Patty made numerous, often anonymous donations to countless charities until their deaths in 1962 and 1972 respectively.

Mary Parker, their nurse-turned-adopted daughter, so inspired by her family’s altruism, continued her Bishop family’s legacy in 1986 by establishing the Mary E. Parker Foundation, funded with her own assets. She passed in 2020 at 108 years of age. The two foundations have funded projects that serve nearly every aspect of life in the Manasota area.

“The original Manatee Players Theatre was strongly supported by the Bishops, not only for construction of the physical building, but also for assistance with the production of the events that took place there, with Lillian serving many years as the chair of the Properties Committee.” their website notes. The Bishops even helped establish the Manatee Arts Center.

The Bishop family loved animals and Patty Bishop was known to ride side-saddle through Bradenton on her beloved horses. The family donated property and funding from the foundation to establish The Bishop Animal Shelter in Bradenton. The shelter has been rescuing and rehoming pets for many years, focusing on making animal companionship affordable for seniors on fixed incomes. 

When the Manatee Memorial Hospital was known as the Manatee Veteran’s Hospital, it expanded with money from the Bishop Foundation, without any fanfare.

“When these hospitals became overcrowded, the Bishops matched community donations and grants, creating a new wing of what was, at that time, Manatee Veteran’s Memorial Hospital,” the Foundation website explains, further adding that the additional two-story wing contained operating rooms, an orthopedic operating room, tumor clinic and a recovery room suite. The expansion serves those in the community with medical conditions that have driven them to seek care here, in Bradenton, for teams of specialists only this hospital offers.

“The Bishops also provided surgeries for numerous patients at no cost as well as other medical care for people who were indigent,” the website says.

According to the foundation’s website, its mission is to “strengthen the Manatee County Community by providing financial support to nonprofit organizations which are working to improve the lives of individuals and animals.” They prove this by awarding grants yearly for six areas of interest: animal welfare, the arts, the environment, education, health, and human services.

Some past recipients of over roughly two dozen chosen from last year’s round of funding include the Arts Center, Boys and Girls Club of Manatee County for the Healthy Eats program, Nate’s Honour Animal Rescue, The Neuro Challenge Foundation to assist those with Parkinson’s, and the Mote Aquarium whose grant is helping to build the advanced technology biomedical research lab. 

Two rounds of funding were approved for 2021 with the first application period having opened in April payments made in July. The second application period will open in September with payments made in December. Applicants fill out an online form to apply for the potential to receive funding of $10,000 or more. Smaller amounts are also considered.

More information about the Bishop Parker Foundation can be found HERE

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