Mellon Heiress Bequeaths Most of Estate to Foundations, Conservation Groups

Cordelia Scaife May, the reclusive heir to a banking fortune valued at more than $800 million, has bequeathed much of her estate to a group of foundations and conservation organizations, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

May, who died of pancreatic cancer in January at the age of 76, was the only daughter of Alan Magee Scaife and Sarah Mellon Scaife. Notoriously private, she favored causes related to environmental conservation, population control, and education, and in recent years had donated important American Indian archaeological sites on her property in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, to a national preservation society.

The Pittsburgh-based Colcom Foundation, one of several charitable organizations May created, received all of her personal property and Pennsylvania real estate, including more than four hundred and fifty acres in Westmoreland County. In addition, May bequeathed all of her property on Maui to the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii and her land on Kauai to the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Land she owned in Virginia was donated to the International Academy for Preventive Medicine. According to the terms of her will, the Cordelia Scaife May Family Trust, created with money inherited from her mother, was ceded to the Colcom Foundation. The rest of her estate was put into a family trust she created in 1998; its beneficiaries are not named in the will.

"My sister had deep feelings for people and for causes," said May's brother, Richard Scaife. "Cordy devoted her life and her finances to supporting worthwhile causes."

Marylynne Pitz. "Obituary: Cordelia Scaife May - Reclusive Mellon Heiress Known for Her Generosity." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 02/27/2005.