• Widow Leaves Bequest to City, SPCA, Retired City Employee

    by Marge Ann Jameson

    Dixie Layne contributed to this story

    Reiko K. Koo lived a quiet life in Pacific Grove. She married Bonok Koo, a Chinese immigrant who taught at the Defense Language Institute, in 1961 and they lived on Bishop Avenue.  After her husband of 25 years died in 1986, Mrs. Koo purchased an apartment building on Jewell and lived her life out there. She died in 2012. The apartment house was sold.

    When her estate was settled, her bequest to the city she loved came to $345,899.52.

    She left an equal amount to a former City employee, Earl Brickman, and his wife, Hope. They now reside in Idaho.

    And she left $691,799.13 to the Monterey County SPCA.

    “She was a long-time donor and supporter of our work here,”said Dawn Fenton of the SPCA. “She loved the animals.” But Fenton said the SPCA was as surprised as anyone about the gift. “We weren’t expecting it,” she said.

    Mrs. Koo’s estate attorney, James Stupar, said that Mrs. Koo also loved her adopted city, Pacific Grove. Though she did not attend city council meetings, she told him she was concerned about the city’s budget problems. Stupar, also a Pacific Grove resident, said she never specified exactly where she wanted the money to be spent, leaving that up to city management.

    “She only mentioned traffic,” he said. “She was very private. She was generous and kind.” He added that she did a lot of traveling.

    The City Council, at the Nov. 20 meeting, formally accepted the gift and held the first reading of an ordinance to establish a fund for it. They also agreed to work on a policy for the use of such bequests. Staff is expected to then identify alternatives for the use of donated funds.

    Though work on the policy has not yet begun, the Friends of the Library got in line first, with Susan Steele speaking at the Nov. 20 meeting and requesting that the City Council consider a matching grant of $50,000 toward their renewal project which has already secured some funding.

    It is not the first time sizable bequests have been left to the city. Jeanette McIndoo left $309,000 to Pacific Grove, specifying that it be used for beautification. Portions have been used for downtown landscaping and to aid in the restoration efforts at the Pt. Pinos Lighthouse.

    Whitney Latham-Lechich, herself a published poet (Windmills of October, 1990) in 2000 bequeathed a cottage to the City with the stipulation that the home be used to promote poetry in Pacific Grove. The cottage, which was constructed in 1890, is located on 8th Street. Funds provided by the Trust for the upkeep of the property financed repairs and made it possible to add a foundation, upgrade the existing bathroom, add a second bathroom and to restore the wood floors.

    And recently, Richard and Beverly Stilwell, still very much alive and kicking, made a matching grant donation to the City to finance the construction of the children’s pool at Lovers Point. When the matching fund ran short, the Stilwells, agreed to give the entire amount.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on November 21, 2013

    Topics: Front PG News


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