4 December 2013
A Very Generous Gift
A Very Generous Woman: Kathleen Magowan
As you may already know from articles in the Valley Press and the Hartford Courant, St. Mary’s Parish is one of the many beneficiaries of the estate of Kathleen Magowan. A member of Saint Mary’s for over 65 years, she left a gift of $374,777 to St. Mary’s Parish. While there are no specific provisions in her Trust about how the money is to be allocated, we surely have an obligation to use these funds in a way that will honor her memory.
Ms. Magowan died on August 17, 2011 and was buried from St. Mary’s Church on August 23, 2011. She was born in New York City and resided there until she came to Simsbury in 1942, where she graduated from high school. After high school, she attended St. Joseph’s College in West Hartford, where she became a Catholic on her 21st birthday.
When she graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1947, she was a member of the first Collegiate Nursing Class. She then worked in the Pediatric Unit of St. Francis Hospital for several years before deciding to become an elementary school teacher. In 1953, she obtained her M.A. in education from Hillyer College.
Her decision to become an elementary school teacher was surely fortuitous. For 35 years she taught first grade at Central, Belden and Squadron Line schools here in Simsbury (she is seated at the far right in this Central School Faculty photo from 1950).
I am told by those who knew her that she was always astounded when former students or their parents met her while she was on her errands and approached her with a good word or compliment about her influence on their lives. But this doesn’t surprise me. This quiet and unassuming woman had a greater impact on the young people of Simsbury than she could ever have imagined.
There is, of course, an important lesson here for all of us: it is not what we do that matters; it is how we do it.
Ms. Magowan retired from teaching in 1984 but remained active in the community by volunteering for the Red Cross Blood Bank and driving others to the grocery store and doctor appointments. She faithfully attended Sunday Mass, sang in the choir, and often attended Daily Mass. Again, I am told by those who knew her that she was a gentle and private person, warm, sweet, and friendly. Her friends remember her for cheery disposition, her talkative nature, and her wonderful personality. We at St. Mary’s will remember her in perpetuity for the generous gift she has bestowed upon us and future generations of this parish.
Ms. Magowan’s gift comes at an important moment in our Parish’s life. Last summer the members of our Parish Council, Finance Committee, and School Board held a Parish Retreat to reflect upon the needs of our parish. One of the results of that retreat was the establishment of a working group that has been diligently assessing the facilities of our plant with a view to the future needs of St. Mary’s. Ms. Magowan’s gift to all of us will play an important role in our future and, at the appropriate time, we will memorialize her. In the meantime, the funds from her gift will remain in a restricted account rather than in our operating budget so that they will be available when the time comes.
From what I have learned from the lawyers that oversaw her estate, and from what I have read in the newspapers, Ms. Magowan lived a simple life, unaware of how much money she had. It is my intention that we use her gift in a way that will honor this humble and unassuming woman who did more good for others than she could ever imagine, and whose gift to St. Mary’s will continue her legacy for years to come.
(4 December 2013)
To learn more about Kathleen Magowan and her unexpected generosity:
The Hartford Courant (11/23/13)
Daily Mail (UK)
(even Yahoo! 7 News in Austrailia!)
A story by NBC's Harry Smith that aired on December 4, 2013:
NBC Nightly News
A story also aired on Fox 61 in CT (December 6, 2013)