Christian Author: Nancy W. Boyer

Extraordinary Teacher.. and the POWER of GIVING

Kathleen Magowan

Kathleen Magowan

Take a look at this face. Very ordinary by most images, but Kathleen Magowan,  of Simsbury, Connecticut,  is neither ordinary or pretentious. Before her death, she was above all things:

  • A TEACHER
  • A CHRISTIAN
  • DEVOTED SISTER
  • UNPRETENTIOUS NEIGHBOR

So why was she so extraordinary? Kathleen could have had the best of everything…new cars, clothes, fancy furniture and house, the most up-to-date electronics, but she chose another path. She loved books and people.

Jenny Depper has written an excellent article about Kathleen.   She says in part the following:
“Kathleen Magowan may have passed away in 2011 at the age of 87, but her surprising charitable donations have given her a very unexpected legacy: she’s being called a “secret millionaire.”

During her lifetime, the former first grade teacher and her twin brother, Robert, amassed a fortune of nearly $10 million… She willed sizable sums of her wealth to places she held dear:

  • Simsbury public schools $480,000 where she taught for 35 years
  • University of St. Joseph in West Hartford $500,000
  •  St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church  $375,000 
  • McLean Nursing Home that took care of her before she died  $400,000

Neither Magowan nor her twin brother ever married and their fortunes were never mentioned in their obituaries. Robert Magowan, who worked for Prudential Insurance, died one year prior to his sister.

It reportedly took lawyers two years to discover the entirety of their massive wealth, which was amassed through a series of smart investments.

“In one of the most stunning discoveries, a neighbor who was helping the attorneys found a Quaker Oats can in a closet that contained the original war bonds from the 1940s and 1950s, largely in small denominations of $50 and $100. The attorneys had no idea what the bonds might be worth, but some research on the Internet showed that the papers in the Quaker Oats can were worth $183,000.”

…”They didn’t throw anything away,” attorney David Bondanza said, (attorney for the estate) “That’s the bottom line. There was a lot of history in that house.” The contents of their home reportedly added $10,000 to their estate after lawyers found $6,000 in jewelry in a safe deposit box. The Magowan twins’ list of priceless items go on, with National Geographic magazines dating back to 1929, old newspapers, dozens of file folders filled with magazines, record albums from the 1920s along with a record player that still worked. However, the most important lesson from their savings seems to be in the power of giving. “People don’t give to be recognized…”

This story strikes an emotional note with me.  I, too, was a teacher for many years…both here in the USA and internationally.  I know what kind of salary teachers make and how frugal one has to be to save.   No, I did not amass a fortune…but the obvious love of learning that Kathleen shared with her students and friends, after retirement, is something I do understand.   I’m sure she would be the first to tell to parents, “Teach your children the power in learning  generosity; sympathy, and kindness.  If it means taking the electronic games or TV away for a while so they can learn the power of conversation, do it for their sake.  They will be the better for it. Teach your children how to save a part of their allowance that they have earned…and understand priorities when buying.”  

Kathleen did not think only of herself, but in her will, she showed that she wanted the things she loved to  go on after her death…which included education, Christian faith, and remembering those who give care and service to the elderly.    Blessings on Kathleen….teacher extraordinary.

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Happy Thanksgiving from Boyer Writes

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