Who Gives Donor Stories
Ordinary people show extraordinary generosity by leaving legacy gifts to charity in their wills and estate plans. These stories show that kindness is demonstrated by people from all walks of life – with different income levels, professions, and passions.
Because of their indelible love of life and concern for others, their memories will live on, and their gifts will remind us all that we, too, can make a difference in the lives that follow.
Some legacy stories that might touch your heart:
- Giving Back Through Their Gift
- A Family Affair
- An Islander Leaves a Legacy
- Michael Sproul’s Story
- A Legacy of Giving
- A Visionary Gift for Art
- A Legacy to Her Family
- Guelph Couple’s Bequest will Fund Research for Rare Disease
- Centenarian Gives Life Savings to Hospital
- Garnet Short and Gifts of Annuities
Blair Carter strongly believes in supporting his community. Born in Halifax to a military family, Blair has known more than a few communities in his lifetime. But after living in Truro since 1979 he thinks he has found one of the best.
He and his wife Rosemary are parents of three daughters, Victoria 15, Nicole 12 and Caroline 9. They understand the importance of supporting organizations that make our communities better places in which to live. Rosemary is a part-time elementary school teacher and stay at home mom. She was involved as a Brownie leader and has volunteered at a local school library for several years. Blair is a member of the Colchester Regional Hospital Foundation Planned Giving Committee and former member of the board of directors for the Foundation. He is also on the board of directors with the United Way and is involved with Junior Achievement.
“We believe that it is important to give something back,” says Blair. “There are so many organizations doing great work here. But they need our help.”
In addition to volunteer service, Blair and Rosemary financially support a number of local charities. However, after Blair was appointed to the Foundation Board he realized that he wanted to do more so he added a codicil to his Will providing a future gift to the Foundation. “Donating to the hospital foundation is a great way to support the community,” he explains. “The hospital is there for all of us no matter what stage of life we are in, and sooner or later everyone will need its services. All three of our children were born there, and my father recently spent a few months in the hospital, and the care and compassion received from the staff was absolutely fantastic. We couldn’t have asked for better.”
Blair’s bequest to the hospital foundation was made with careful consideration for his family. As an investor advisor/financial planner with RBC Dominion Securities, Blair knows the importance of identifying financial goals and establishing plans to reach them. A major goal for him is to ensure the financial resources required by his young family will be available in the event of his death. In addition to his Will, Blair has used life insurance as part of his overall financial and estate plan.
As for his charitable bequest, he knows the tax credit from the gift will help offset the income tax owing on his final tax return; funds that would not be available to his family anyway. “If I can choose between Canada Revenue Agency or myself deciding how those funds should be spent, I’ll win every time,” he laughs.
Blair likes the fact that, although the gift has been arranged, his assets and cash flow today are not affected. And as his children grow and their needs change he can re-visit his will as required. “A will should be reviewed every few years to ensure that it still meets your needs,” Blair points out. “Later on our lives will change and things will look different. Hopefully we can then be even more generous!”
For now Blair and Rosemary as happy to enjoy their family and community and to do their part to ensure quality medical care is available now, and in the future.
Written by Peter Barnicke
For the Barnicke family, the way to make a difference in the community is to dedicate our time and energy to a place that has made a difference in our lives. Although St. Joseph’s Health Centre has graciously named parts of our West Toronto hospital in honour of my family over the past generation, it is the stamp that the hospital has left on us and our community that inspires me to invest the lion’s share of my time and philanthropy here. As a child in 1935, my father, Joseph J. Barnicke, was diagnosed with cancer, at age 12. He recovered fully and believed that the Sisters of St. Joseph, the nursenuns, “prayed his cancer away.” He went on to generously repay that debt of care and compassion throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
We are now in a new era of renewal on many fronts in Parkdale High Park, and I am now stepping up to my own investment in the future health of our community. I do this with great pride: I joined the hospital’s Foundation Board in 2005 and recently became Chair of its Major Gifts Committee. I am very fortunate that my parents instilled in me the tradition of giving back, and I look forward to passing that on to my children. I have also enjoyed inspiring others to join our Foundation Board and see the hospital into the future. Yet a legacy doesn’t really begin in the past, with anyone else. It begins in the present, with us, with an understanding of what has gone before and a hope for the future.
In business, we invest in the critical mass—we invest to build on our strengths. Investing in St. Joseph’s is smart business, in a family business like no other, when the business is our health. Following in my family’s tradition, committing to our local Health Centre in a dedicated way over the long term so that it can build on its strengths, is bringing me enormous rewards. At this turning point in its history, the St. Joseph’s Health Centre needs more family feeling than ever before, from more of us.
A special thanks to the Barnicke Family and St. Joseph's Health Centre Foundation for sharing their story, © CAGP 2009*
Gifts to the IWK Health Centre often come from the heart, and none more so than that left by long-time donor Alex MacRae, of Culloden, PEI. He left 30 per cent of the residue of his estate to the IWK Health Centre Foundation for areas of greatest need in Children’s Health Services.
The heart can shelter many secrets and wishes that are not shared; the exact reason for Mr. MacRae’s donation may never be known. But second cousin Donalda Ross, who was also a neighbor, has a couple of theories. Mr. MacRae served with the 2nd Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment in Europe during the Second World War and met the love of his life, Irene Clark, while in England, where they married. Mrs. Ross said while he never talked about his experiences, the suffering of the children caught in war may have led him to donate to the IWK.
When the MacRae’s returned to PEI, they lived on the family farm. For 34 years, Mr. MacRae also served as a quartermaster aboard the Prince Nova, and enjoyed meeting people from across Canada and around the world. While the two never had children of their own, they were known to be fond of children. Mrs. Ross says they were especially close to a young niece who passed away at age six. “She was an angel,” says Mrs. Ross who was also executrix of his will. “And she always had a special place in their hearts.”
Mrs. MacRae passed away in 2001, and Mr. MacRae died in March 2009 at the age of 89, leaving the entirety of his estate to charity.
“His generosity will help so many children, including those we care for who come from PEI” says Mary Theresa Ross, personal and planned giving officer with the Foundation. “I only wish we could have known and thanked him while he was still alive. His donation has touched all our hearts."
A special thanks to IWK Health Centre Foundation and their loving donors for sharing their story*
It was the fall of 1993. For Michael Sproul, it was supposed to be a simple hop from the boat to the dock. However, the small, foot-and-a-half distance proved more dangerous than it looked when Michael’s right foot twisted painfully beneath him. As it turned out his ankle was not just sprained, but broken.
Something as common as a broken bone soon turned into an uncommon journey through the hospital. Along with the broken ankle, a clot developed in Michael’s leg. Clots have the danger of breaking loose and causing life-threatening blockages in the heart or brain. So a trip to Victoria Hospital’s emergency room on South Street in London, Ontario turned into a longer stay as medical staff worked to safely bust the clot.
Then things got complicated.
Michael experienced ongoing pain and a series of clots in his right leg, and was placed on blood thinners. Then on New Year’s Eve in 1993, he felt an odd sensation in his leg, as if someone had turned on a tap and water was flowing. Another trip to the emergency room led to the discovery that Michael had internal bleeding that had caused “compartment syndrome,” a condition where the muscles, tissues and blood vessels in a localized area have been compressed due to pressure. He was rushed to the operating room where they removed a clot the size of a fist, and had to remove a good deal of his calf with it.
The emergency procedure left the leg with a major “dent” as Michael puts it, and this active sailor wouldn’t wear shorts again until a few years later when Dr. Chris Scilley, a plastic surgeon at London Health Sciences Centre, was able to reconstruct his calf.
Michael’s challenge with the condition still persists. Late in 2007, he recognized that unsettling sensation of a tap being turned on in his leg. He travelled from his current home in Bayfield, to the hospital in nearby Goderich. There, doctors working in consultation with London Health Sciences Centre were able to stabilize the situation.
Michael is grateful for the ongoing care he has received from London Health Sciences Centre, and still travels to the city to see his doctor at one of the hospital’s family clinics.
“My doctor has always been there for me,” Michael says.
Now, Michael wants to ensure that a wonderful resource like London Health Sciences Centre has the ongoing support it needs to help others in the region.
He remembers the extra care and compassion of the staff during his visits and stays in the hospital. He tells of how a particular doctor remained late, after the end of his shift in the emergency room to ensure Michael’s care was immediate and seamless. He is grateful for the time and care Dr. Scilley took in reshaping his damaged calf. Michael also remembers the care his attending doctors and nurses took in ensuring his extended stays in hospital were as comfortable as possible.
Since Michael had invested in a business partnership to provide for his retirement, he feels that he can contribute more through his estate than he can today. As a result, Michael became a London Health Sciences Foundation “Donor for Tomorrow” and made provisions to support the hospital through his will. This way he can say thank-you the way he wants to, ensure others receive the same great care he has experienced, and maintain the stability he built for his retirement.
By letting London Health Sciences Foundation know about his intentions, the foundation is able to say thank you, to ensure Michael’s future gift is used in the manner he wishes, and Michael is kept informed about important news, discoveries, and medical firsts at London Health Sciences Centre.
“Working with our Donors for Tomorrow is inspiring,” says Colleen DeJager, LHSF Manager for Planned Giving and Estates. “They are ensuring that future generations receive the best of care at London Health Sciences Centre. We are so grateful for their generosity.”
A special thanks to London Health Sciences Foundation and their loving donors for sharing their story, © CAGP 2008
Giving is so much a part of the Zavitz family that Terry and her husband Doug have set up their own family foundation, and on special occasions like birthdays, they make donations that will ultimately go to their favourite charities.
The Zavitz family (from left): Doug, Terry, Jason, Justine and Jarrett.
“When I was a teenager, my mother worked on a campaign raising money for the YMCA,” Terry Zavitz says. “I saw people give out of their own pockets because they wanted to contribute to something of value for the community. That was a defining moment - when I understood what giving was.”
Terry embraced her mother’s example and volunteered on a planned giving committee for the University Hospital Foundation in 1987. Over the years she served on, or chaired several of the foundation’s committees and sat on the board. When that foundation merged into London Health Sciences Foundation in 1996, Terry continued to volunteer, even chairing the LHSF board from 1998-2000.
Sons Jason and Jarrett, who now live out West, understand the importance of giving back and daughter Justine, who is still in London, is also continuing in her mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps by working on a charitable committee.
Terry notes that charity can be as simple as giving when a non-profit calls and asks for $20. However, she has discovered that it is even better to become educated about giving - “stretching your mind and learning how to give more than you ever thought you could,” she says.
Leading by example, Terry has donated a $250,000 life insurance policy, to celebrate 25 years in business as Zavitz Insurance Inc. This is the second policy she has donated to benefit London Health Sciences Centre. In 1990 Terry gave a planned gift through University Hospital Foundation.
“These gifts do not replace my annual giving, but planned giving allows me an opportunity to give more than I otherwise could,” she says.
Planned giving is making a great contribution to London Health Sciences Centre with many bequests helping to complete the Lindros Legacy Research building at University Hospital. The “Legacy” in the name reflects the significant contributions from LHSF’s planned giving program to the facility. The building will be home to leading-edge programs that contribute to health care and medical discoveries, benefiting patients in Southwestern Ontario and beyond.
As an insurance company owner Terry sees the advantages of donating life insurance.
“First, it doesn’t deplete the estate,” she says. “Since I can’t tell what size of estate I’m going to have, this is a simple way of giving without having to worry about the impact a gift will have on my family or the business.”
“Second, it is so simple to do,” she continues. “The biggest thing is to sit down and fill out the application.”
“I think back to the first policy I donated. My only regret is that I didn’t make it bigger. I don’t even notice the [premiums] coming out, and at the end of the year I get a charitable receipt. Best of all, I know that gift will make such a positive financial impact to the hospital when it is realized.”
A special thanks to London Health Sciences Foundation and their loving donors for sharing their story, © CAGP 2008
In the early 1900s, deep in the heart of the prairies, thousands of miles from the nearest gallery, Norman MacKenzie envisioned Regina as home to one of the finest art galleries in Canada. With a simple bequest in his will, he planted the seeds that made it happen.
In 1936, he left his property and securities, and 374 art objects to the University of Saskatchewan. He indicated his wish in his will for a gallery to be built in Regina to house the collection. Unfortunately, his death occurred during the Depression and his estate was not worth enough to fulfill his dream.
It was not until 953 that the University built a single gallery adjacent to the College Building on College Avenue that included MacKenzie’s bequest. In 1957, with additional funds from the province, the gallery was extended and expanded to include an art department. In 1990, it moved to its current location in the TC Douglas Building on Albert Street where it now houses an impressive array of art collections fulfilling MacKenzie’s wish.
According to Timothy Long, Head Curator of the MacKenzie Art Gallery, there was visionary element in MacKenzie’s bequest. “It was intended to foster the arts in a province that had very little access to art of any historical significance,” explains Long. “In 1957 it was, quite literally, the best art gallery between Toronto and Vancouver.” Long explains that another of MacKenzie’s wishes was to make the gallery valuable for students. Currently, it is used to present examples of various schools and periods, exposing students and the public to the history of art through primary sources. Philanthropists today who wish to support the Gallery have a number of options for leaving their own legacy gifts, including financial donations, donations of artwork or through the purchase of a work of art in memory of a loved one. In this way, they can leave a meaningful gift to the community that, like MacKenzie’s gift, can be enjoyed for decades to come. “A gift like his has consequences that extend over several generations,” says Long. “I say, ‘Hats off to MacKenzie’.”
Throughout the 87 years of her life, Blanche Green developed a deep connection to Saskatchewan health care. She remembered the strife that affected the community and the importance of accessible health care to her friends and family during the Medicare debates of the 1960s. She worked under Tommy Douglas, Ross Thatcher and other politicians who shaped the Saskatchewan healthcare system, with a passion that still lives on.
“My whole life I have followed health care issues,” she says. “In 42 years of working for the government and volunteering in the community I saw a lot. I guess you can say health care is probably my number one interest.” Blanche’s interest took on a more personal note when her parents got sick, and an even greater significance when her sister Sally died in 1990.
“Sally was always active even though she had polio at the early age of 4 and was later burdened with high blood pressure, but she never considered herself handicapped. She was so busy, always doing something. She even drove a car at a time when most women didn’t even consider it,” recalls Blanche fondly.
To honor her family and to give support to health care agencies, Blanche chose to work with a financial planner to provide support to charities with which she feels a close personal connection. “I guess I’ve always chosen the charities that have touched my family,” she explains.
- She supports the Heart and Stroke Foundation because her sister, father and mother had heart and stroke problems.
- Because Sally had polio, Blanche donates to the Saskatchewan Abilities Council.
- She includes the Orange Home in Indian Head because her brother-in-law was on the board there.
- Blanche herself has glaucoma, so the Canadian National Institute for the Blind is one of her chosen charities.
- She supports the Canadian Cancer Society, the Arthritis Society and the Salvation Army.
Blanche has also had the Hospitals of Regina Foundation in her will for some time now. “The hospitals form the ground work for all health care,” Blanche says. She feels the hospitals are an important beneficiary, because they bring all her charities together. Everyone in her family including Blanche herself has required hospital care at one time. Her donation of a Gift of Securities came partly from herself and partly from a gift to her from Sally’s estate. Blanche was delighted to be able to donate this to go towards the 1st MRI in southern Saskatchewan.
“Good health care is so important, it helps the people in our community who need it most,” she says. “I’ve been lucky in the support I’ve received and now I want to share that with others. My immediate family members are all gone so I want it to go where it will do the most good for Saskatchewan, today and in the future.”
Guelph Couple’s Bequest will Fund Research for Rare Disease
Priscilla Manning is an avid card player, joining her friends for euchre as often as four times a week. It’s one way she stays positive, while learning to live with the disease Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP). “You have to play the cards you’ve been dealt with in life,” she says.
Priscilla Pictured Above
PSP is a very rare and debilitating disease that is sometimes referred to as Parkinson’s “Plus.” Those afflicted suffer gradual brain cell loss that slows movement and affects normal functions such as walking, balance, swallowing, and speaking. Although it is a condition like Parkinson’s, PSP affects other parts of the brain as well, and doesn’t respond very well to Parkinson’s medications. To help better understand and treat this disease, Priscilla and her husband Terry are bequeathing a significant portion of their estate to London Health Sciences Centre to fund research.
Priscilla, who lives in Guelph, began having problems with her balance four years ago after undergoing lower back surgery. At first her problems were believed to be associated with her surgery, but she was eventually diagnosed with PSP by Dr. Mandar Jog, Director of the Movement Disorders Program at London Health Sciences Centre.
Because they’re so rare, PSP and similar diseases attract little research funding. This is one reason the Mannings decided to make a bequest and direct it to research. “Priscilla felt very strongly that we needed to do something,” says Terry. “Our hope is that these funds will help increase research and capabilities in these areas.”
Priscilla and Terry believe that Dr. Jog’s outstanding research program is the best place to maximize the potential of their gift. Terry, who recently retired as the Director of Elanco Animal Health, a Division of Eli Lilly, knows from first hand experience how research funding works. “Sometimes a small amount of money can leverage larger amounts from government and corporations, and lead to very worthwhile outcomes,” he says.
Dr. Jog agrees that bequests such as this have the potential to attract further funds. His internationally renowned Program conducts research on many fronts, from basic science to clinical trials. “Our bottom line is to come up with therapeutic interventions that benefit people’s quality of life,” he says. “This kind of bequest allows us to get to the cutting edge of technology and science.”
Priscilla and Terry are grateful for the expertise of London Health Sciences Foundation in helping them structure a planned gift that balances their philanthropic goals with their family needs. They have two children, a daughter in Ottawa, and a son in Edmonton, and three grandchildren. “The people in the Foundation have been marvelous to deal with,” says Terry.
Although it’s difficult to predict their future financial needs, Priscilla and Terry are hoping that their planned gift will grow over time. “In making this bequest we want to show appreciation to those who have helped us, and also benefit others,” says Terry. “Unless people like us get involved, our health system just can’t manage.”
A special thanks to London Health Sciences Foundation and their loving donors for sharing their story, © CAGP 2008
Economical in everything he did, Emery Kilmer often rode his bike all the way out to the Arva Flour Mill, where he picked up large sacks of flour for baking bread. Only well into his 90s did he begin to buy flour from a local bakery.
The life of Emery Kilmer exemplifies how a person of modest means can make a big difference. Kilmer, who recently died in his 102nd year, bequeathed almost his entire estate to London Health Sciences Centre for purposes of research. His gift is among the largest bequests ever made to the hospital.
Emery Kilmer pictured above
Kilmer worked as a carpenter until he retired about 40 years ago. Both his wife and daughter died before him, leaving him with no immediate family. At the time of his death he was living on his own at his home in east London.
He lived his life frugally and self sufficiently. His lawyer, executor and friend, Martin Stambler, now retired, remembers him as “fiercely independent.” He kept a vegetable garden, which made up much of his diet. He froze his berries, and kept carrots and beets in his root cellar. At age 100 he planted more strawberries, observing that he wouldn’t see them bear fruit for another two years.
Kilmer was a very sociable person who was generous to others. “He was an engaging, likeable guy, with a wry wit,” says Stambler. He played cards twice a week at the Community Centre on Hamilton Road. He helped his neighbours by shoveling snow, offering drives, or helping out when they were sick.
Even when his health began to fail, he tenaciously held on to his independence. Stambler remembers dropping by from time to time to bring him food, and make sure he was okay. Although grateful, Kilmer always made it clear that he was doing just fine on his own.
Reluctant to attract attention, Kilmer didn’t notify LHSC of his planned gift. Although the hospital often receives bequests it does not expect, Colleen DeJager, LHSC Planned Giving Officer, says that it’s nice to know ahead of time because it helps the hospital plan for the future. “More important, it gives the hospital an opportunity to recognize the person while he or she is alive,” she says. “We can also try to identify the area that is most in keeping with a donor’s philanthropic intentions.”
There are many ways that LHSC recognizes the generosity of donors who make planned gifts, says DeJager, and keep them informed about what’s happening. “We understand that it’s often a big sacrifice to give money to a charity, and we’re very grateful. We would have loved to have given a big thank you to Mr. Kilmer.”
Garnet Short is a man who knows the value of a dollar. Beginning life in the working world as a clerk in a shoe store, the Woodstock resident went on to work everywhere from the stockroom of a factory producing mortar bombs and shells during WW II, to a private business selling mutual funds with an old friend. “I’ve certainly dabbled in many things,” said 81-year-old Short, “but the one thing I learned through it all was how to live on a budget.”
As time wore on, health problems began to arise and Short came to depend on the London Health Sciences Centre. “I’ve had a couple of operations,” he said. “And both were life-saving.” Feeling he owed the hospital some form of repayment, he expressed his immense gratitude by making a donation through the gift of an annuity - an option his money-wise personality told him was the best way to go.
Garnet Short pictured above
“It helped me in many ways,” he said. “I got to make the donation, it helps pay my bills now, and it’s a nice incentive to have that tax deduction.” The deduction can be spread over a maximum of five years, or used at any point there within, whenever it is most convenient.
Since his work with mutual funds allowed Short to make several investments of his own, some of which are doing quite well as of late, the most convenient time for him to take advantage of the tax credit may have arrived. “I’ve had a lot of capital gain on my investments, so I might use it all up this year to help keep me in a lower tax bracket,” he said. “I like having the option.” For Short, the added bonus of tax breaks and guaranteed monthly income made the gift of an annuity an unbeatable way to donate to London Health Sciences Centre. “I thought I certainly owed the hospital something,” he said, “because I wouldn’t be alive without them.” Charitable Gift Annuities are an attractive option for donors, usually in their seventies and older, to benefit a charity and collect income, largely tax exempt (depending on the age of the purchaser), at the same time. Part of the capital used to acquire the annuity (typically 25%) is an immediate gift to the charity for which a tax receipt is issued. The balance of the capital purchases a commercial annuity, which pays the donor income for life.