Heiress Leaves $40 Million to Girls' Prep School

Heiress Leaves $40 Million to Girls' Prep School

Foxcroft School, a college-prep boarding and day school for girls in Middleburg, Virginia, has announced a $40 million bequest from alumna Ruth Bedford ('32), a Standard Oil heiress.

The gift from Bedford, a longtime resident of Westport, Connecticut, who died in June at the age of 99, will more than double the school's endowment. Foxcroft officials told the Washington Post they believe it is the largest gift ever to an all-girls school and one of the largest ever to a secondary school from a woman. Bedford — whose grandfather, Edward T. Bedford, served as a director of Standard Oil and founded the Corn Products Refining Company — played basketball, was a cheerleader, and rode at Foxcroft, and she remained involved with the school throughout her life. Founded in 1914, the school, which from its earliest days put an equal emphasis on academics and athletics at a time when physical exertion was considered inappropriate for girls, has been attended by daughters of the Rockefeller, Carnegie, Mellon, and Astor families.

"It's exciting for us to be able to say that now we can work more boldly to serve girls in education," Cathy McGehee, Foxcroft's head of school, told the Post.

While at one point Bedford worked on Broadway as a Rodgers and Hammerstein production hand, she dedicated much of her life to social service, working with the Red Cross in Europe during World War II and volunteering for more than fifty years at Norwalk Hospital, where she visited cancer patients. She also gave generously to charity, especially in support of education.

"There's a saying that to whom much is given much is expected," said Bill Weeks, a former Foxcroft trustee and a friend of Bedford. "I really feel that it’s fitting of Ruth's life."