Bequests From Indianapolis Recluse Top $91 Million

Lawyers for the estate of Sally Reahard, an Indianapolis recluse, have announced bequests of $70 million to the Nature Conservancy in Arlington, Virginia; $15 million to Drayton Hall in Charleston, South Carolina; and $6 million to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Indianapolis Star reports.

The daughter of a longtime Eli Lilly employee, Reahard, who never married and died at age ninety-five in July 2003, inherited Lilly company stock from her father and used the income to support causes with contributions totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Although active in her younger years, she began to restrict her travels in her forties and eventually spent all her time within a few blocks of her Indianapolis home. Nevertheless, she remained engaged with her community, friends, and nonprofit organizations, and her love of nature resulted in her gift — the largest in the organization's history — to the Nature Conservancy, allowing it to buy thousands of acres in Indiana, including a tract of wetlands in the northern part of the state.

"For the first time in our history and the state of Indiana, we can impact conservation on a scale this state has never seen before," said Mary McConnell, the Conservancy's director in Indiana, commenting on the bequest.

Reahard also was a longtime supporter of Drayton Hall, a plantation house dating from the late 1730s. In 1974 she provided funds to enable its purchase and conversion to a museum operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Through the years she supported its preservation efforts and established an endowment with a $2.5 million gift.

"She couldn't solve all the world's problems, but she could solve some of them," said Gene Wilkins, Reahard's attorney.

Rob Schneider. "Millionaire Recluse Had a Gift For Giving." Indianapolis Star 02/01/2004.