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A Transformational Bequest
It was a rainy December morning when we met at the law offices in Goldsboro, North Carolina. The probate process was nearly complete and it was time to issue the final charitable gifts from Josephine’s estate.
As family and friends gathered around the conference room table to share their memories, it soon became quite evident that Josephine Bannon was a very special person.
Josephine Tavzelj Dunn Bannon was born in Pennsylvania in 1922 to Yugoslavian immigrants. A short time later her parents moved to Detroit, where she lived for almost the next 60 years. She loved to share stories of her time growing up in the Motor City. She served as a Yeoman in the United States Navy during World War II. Eventually, Jo retired after 40 years with the UAW and Ford Motor Company and moved to Goldsboro, North Carolina.
Josephine was a parishioner at St. Mary Catholic Church where she was involved in parish activities and loved her community. Fellow parishioners remarked that she was a gracious lady and hostess. Jo enjoyed her daily four o’clock “coffee” with her close friends, where laughter and food were on the menu. Jo’s faith was very important to her and provided ongoing encouragement to live a life of charity. Furthermore, she had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and prayed the Rosary on many occasions.
Jo rarely spent money on herself. She lived a rather simple life. However, she was always on the lookout to help others in need; family, friends or even complete strangers. If Jo saw a need she was moved with compassion to help. Once she opened her home to one of her nieces who could not afford to live in the suburbs when she had her first job. One of Jo’s nieces, Debra remarked, “Aunt Jo was generous, but there were no free rides. She wanted to help us by giving us a hand up, not a handout.”
About 10 years before her passing, Jo established a gift through her Will, a gift that will help transform Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh. Gary Skinner, Executive Director of Catholic Charites, one of the four charitable beneficiaries of the Bannon estate gift, explains the impact the bequest will have on those who Catholic Charities serves throughout the Diocese of Raleigh: “The Bannon Gift will enable four offices of Catholic Charities to move to more inviting, professional and better located sites. This will enable us to better serve the poor in Goldsboro, Fayetteville, Greenville and Wilmington.”
Josephine’s gift was extraordinary for its scope and impact. However, the most extraordinary aspect about Jo’s gift is that it was actually established. Statistics vary, but over 50% of Americans do not have a valid Will! The Will might be invalid for a number of reasons; intentions may also be out of date. Experts recommend that a Will and Estate Plan should be reviewed every 3 to 5 years. Josephine was intentional about her charitable giving during her lifetime and even more so after her life on earth had ended. She took the time to acquire good legal counsel and made the necessary steps to have a solid Will and Estate Plan drafted to reflect those causes that meant the most to her. Most importantly she acted on it. Stories abound of people who had great charitable intentions, but never got around to putting their thoughts on paper or who drafted a Will they never signed. If there is a charitable cause that you care deeply about, don’t wait until it’s too late, act today. The Diocese of Raleigh offers free Estate Planning Seminars at parishes around the Diocese as well as the Catholic Estate and Personal Planning Workbook that will help you get prepared to draft a Will.
For a free copy of the Catholic Estate and Personal Planning Workbook or to learn of the many ways in which you can establish a bequest or other planned gift for a Diocesan ministry that is close to your heart, please contact Ryan Flood, Director of Special gifts at 919-821-9774 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.