ALMOST 100 years ago Charles Saunders, born in a humble labourer's cottage in St Weonard's, near Hereford, left Britain for a new life in America.

He prospered there and built a successful business with his wife Anna.

But he was always appreciated the character traits developed in his native county.

Now local charities are to benefit from his affection for his roots.

His grandchildren and great-grandchildren have set up the Charles and Anna Saunders fund to honour them at the Herefordshire Community Foundation, a grant-awarding charity helping local voluntary and community groups.

They feel that much of the family’s personal and business success sprung from their connection to the Herefordshire, and now their goal is to help the foundation in its philanthropic work in the county.

Charles Saunders was born at Penrose Green Farm, just south of St Weonards, in 1890.

He attended the National School at St Weonards and eventually moved to Pontypool where he lived and worked.

He emigrated to the United States in 1913, following his brother Albert, who was a Presbyterian minister.

Charles joined the US Army to fight in the Great War, which automatically secured his US citizenship.

When serving in France during the war he met US Army nurse Anna Crouse from Upper Sandursky, Ohio.

They were married after the war and moved to Boulder, Colorado, so he could attend the University of Colorado.

Ever the entrepreneur, Charles bought, restored, and sold Victorian homes in Boulder to support his family and pay for his university education.

Charles and Anna had three children and eventually the family moved to Houston, Texas.

They lived through the Great Depression, struggling financially as Charles sold cemetery plots and Anna taught piano lessons. 

They often wondered where their next meal would come from.

In 1942 Charles and Anna bought Brookside Memorial Park, a rundown cemetery in Houston. There are some wonderful stories about the people buried there on the Historic Houston website.

For the remainder of their lives they poured their time, effort, energy and business earnings into their cemetery business.

Charles died in 1959 and Anna in 1986.

Brookside became a very successful, highly-regarded business and it was sold by the family in 1997. 

Charles and Anna were hard working, diligent, thrifty, entrepreneurial and humble people, all character traits that were formed in Charles as he grew up in Herefordshire.