Heiress Bequeaths $80 Million to Connecticut Organizations

Heiress Bequeaths $80 Million to Connecticut Organizations

Norwalk Hospital and the Westport Weston Family YMCA have announced bequests of $40 million each from the estate of Ruth Thomas Bedford, who was an active supporter of both organizations.

Bedford, who died last June, was the last surviving grandchild of Edward T. Bedford, a Standard Oil executive and philanthropist who founded the Family YMCA. She lived for decades in Westport, Connecticut, and was instrumental in helping the Family Y renovate and expand its original downtown location during the 1980s. Bedford also logged nearly seventeen thousand volunteer hours in the hospital gift shop over five decades. "She was one of us," Carol Bauer, a volunteer and former board chair at the hospital, told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. "If you didn't know about her family's background, you would never have known she was wealthy."

The Family Y indicated that the endowment would ensure the long-term viability of the organization, with funds earmarked for current and future capital needs and to endow programs for wellness and youth. At Norwalk Hospital, a task force of volunteer and administrative leaders is evaluating options to enhance patient care programs and services.

"The profound impact of a gift of this magnitude to the greater Norwalk and Westport communities is difficult to quantify," said Barbara Butler, a Norwalk Hospital board member. "Clearly, we are extremely grateful. Ruth Bedford's legacy will touch the lives of men, women, and children in our community for generations to come."

"Westport Weston Family YMCA and Norwalk Hospital Receive $80 Million From Estate of Ruth Thomas Bedford." Norwalk Hospital, Westport Weston Family YMCA Joint Press Release 03/18/2015. Maria Di Mento. "A YMCA and a Hospital Receive $40 Million Each From Oil Heiress." Chronicle of Philanthropy 03/18/2015.