John and Elizabeth (Bette) Hulley

Supporting the evolving needs of Western New York

Growing up in different cities in the 1960s and ʼ70s, John and Elizabeth (Bette) Hulley understand that times change. And with that, so do the needs of a community.

John grew up in Pittsburgh, where the nearby steel mill employed most of the residents. John’s school focused on self-sufficiency and vocational training, and by age 12, he was refinishing furniture, an interest that has stayed with him since. He continued to hone his craft, earning enough to purchase his first house by the age of 19, all while pursuing a business degree, and eventually followed his passion for furniture making to Buffalo.

Bette was born and raised in Western New York, spending most of her childhood living in North Buffalo with her siblings, grandparents and parents. Her father was a schoolteacher and her mother a stockbroker who blazed trails for women working at that time. Bette recalls her parents as hard workers who valued education and giving back. “They led by example. We always volunteered, and we always gave back,” she said. Bette attended Buffalo State and pursued a career in financial planning.

By 1990, the landscape and industry of Buffalo had changed significantly, and it was ready for its resurgence. That year, John and Bette’s paths first crossed at a ballroom dancing class that led to their marriage two years later. John started his own furniture business in Kenmore, and Bette advanced in her career as a certified financial planner.

When it came time to plan for their legacy, the Hulleys turned to the Community Foundation, which Bette was familiar with through her work as a financial planner.

They knew they wanted to support causes important to them, including food insecurity and the arts, and established the John Hulley and Elizabeth Rydzynski-Hulley Fund, an endowed fund, in 2011 that would do just that, in their names, forever.

Recognizing that our region – now well into its resurgence – has faced new challenges along the way, in 2019, the Hulleys established a second fund, the Hulley WNY Changing Needs Fund, to support the changing needs of Western New York.

Today, both nearly retired, the Hulleys appreciate the Community Foundation’s deep knowledge of Western New York, its investment approach and its good stewardship
of their funds.

“It gives me peace of mind to know that my charitable dollars now and when I’m gone are in good hands with the Community Foundation,” Bette said.

This story was featured in our 2023 Annual Report.