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Henry Willard bequeaths $3.45 million to local nonprofits

By Staff | May 1, 2020

Shepherdstown Day Care Center was one of 13 local nonprofits receiving funds from the estate of Henry Willard. A total of $3.45 million was donated. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Many local nonprofits received an unexpected financial boost when they were named as beneficiaries by long-time resident Henry Willard.

Willard, known for his generosity in supporting local organizations and causes, died two days before Christmas 2018, at the age of 92.

A press release last week announced Willard bequeathed $3.45 million to a variety of organizations in Jefferson and Berkeley counties.

A veteran of World War II, Henry served aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Franklin as a young seaman, and survived one of the deadliest attacks on a U.S. warship during the war.

A fourth-generation Washingtonian and great-grandson of Henry A. Willard, the founder of the city’s storied Willard Hotel, he retired to Shepherdstown in 1979 after a career as an American Security and Trust Company executive. In 1971, he was appointed by President Richard Nixon to the District of Columbia City Council and served on the board of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority as the early phases of the city’s new Metro system were being constructed. He had a lifelong passion for U.S. railroad history and had a knowledge of American history, particularly the Civil War.

Willard’s wife, Louise, was a former member of the board of Hospice of the Panhandle, and he provided $500,000 from his estate to that organization, in addition to funds formerly contributed to the building of the current hospice facility.

“The Willards have provided such incredible support to our organization over the years,” said Margaret Cogswell, executive director of Hospice.

“For many years, my father donated most of his annual income to causes that he cared about,” said Hank Willard. “Many were local nonprofits that we should all support.”

Several organizations in Shepherdstown were recipients of Willard’s generosity.

Trinity Episcopal Church, where the Willards attended, was given $500,000.

“He was a great friend of mine, the church and our area,” said Rev. G.T. Schramm. “I know he was delighted to leave such a legacy for all of us.”

Additional recipients of Willard’s bequest were Elmwood Cemetery Association, the Contemporary American Theater Festival and Shepherdstown Daycare Center, which each received $250,000.

The Shepherdstown Library Foundation received $100,000.

Shepherdstown Public Library Board President Terrence Kramer said the Willard family stands out for its longstanding and sustained engagement, as well as its interest in stewardship, which has helped shape the library’s commitment to service in the community.

Additional nonprofits benefitting from Willard’s gift include Good Shepherd Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers and United Way of the Eastern Panhandle, both receiving $100,000.

Historic Shepherdstown Commission and Shepherdstown Community Club also received $50,000 each, as did the Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County. Panhandle Home Health was given $250,000 while the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation in Martinsburg was bequeathed $1 million.

“My father loved this community, and I know my parents enjoyed the best years of their lives in Shepherdstown. I believe my father was inspired by the high level of sharing and commitment to mutual aid that he witnessed here,” Hank said.