Like so many of the Greatest Generation, Katherine Gruber Smith made a life for herself far from where she grew up. But at the end of that life, she returned a great blessing to the children of the region she originally called home, with a gift of $1 million to the Waterville Community Foundation (an affiliate of Greater Toledo Community Foundation).
Born and raised in Liberty Center, Katherine met her husband, Tom, during his World War II service in the Navy. After the war, they moved to Connecticut, where they both enjoyed lifelong careers in the corporate world. When Tom passed away in 2005, Katherine returned to northwest Ohio to be near family.
The Waterville Community Foundation (WCF) was established in 2002 to support nonprofits in and around the Waterville area. With input from the WCF, the GTCF manages, invests and distributes assets from WCF funds. The City of Waterville was instrumental in establishing the WCF, and made the first contribution to a WCF fund.Make a Donation
Shortly thereafter, her niece, Marilyn Simpson, introduced her to attorney Paul Croy to help manage her estate. Paul took an instant liking to the sharp, independent-minded 88-year-old. “When I first met her,” he recalled, “I thought to myself, ‘I hope I’m this together when I’m her age!’”
Paul noted that Katherine was very clear about her estate planning goals. “She wanted her assets to be used for charitable purposes in her home community. Not having lived here for most of her adult life, she didn’t know much about specific programs or agencies in the area – but she was very definite about what she wanted to accomplish.
“Katherine had no children of her own, but she loved children and was deeply concerned about young people in need,” he said. With Paul’s help, Katherine established four separate funds through her estate: two that aid abused and developmentally disabled children; one that supports youth-focused area nonprofits; and a scholarship fund for college-bound area high-schoolers.
“She’s not someone you’d tell what to do,” noted Paul. “She’d ask for ideas, and we’d weigh the pros and cons – but she’d make the decisions. She also liked that after her passing, decisions about how to use fund resources would be made locally.”
“She’s not someone you’d tell what to do. She’d ask for ideas, and we’d weigh the pros and cons – but she’d make the decisions. She also liked that after her passing, decisions about how to use fund resources would be made locally.”- PAUL CROY
While many estate plans are structured with tax advantages in mind, charitable giving was Katherine’s sole focus in creating her plan. “People get so excited and enthused when they think of what their assets can do to benefit others,” said Croy. “Katherine took great pleasure in knowing the benefit she would provide young people in our community.”
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