Thursday, January 8, 2009
Hi! It's 6:20 PM at the Waterford Library as this goes to press. Hope to get it out before I see Wally Lamb, a local author at the Waterford Town Hall tonight. "FOUNDATION RECEIVES ITS LARGEST GIFT" 3.6M is from estate of founder of Eastern Connecticut Cable By Lee Howard Day Staff Writer Thursday, January 8, 2009 New London -- After a four-year legal process, the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut finally has received the largest gift in its history -- $3.6 million from the estate of Edmund W. O'Brien of Waterford, former owner of Eastern Connecticut Cable TV, Inc. "The estate was complicated," said Alice F. Fitzpatrick, president of the New London-based foundation. "Initially, I was concerned there might be push-back from family members, but they've just been wonderful." Fitzpatrick said the holdup at first involved the sale of the cable TV company to Metrocast and then legal complications related to the sale. Among the issues were questions from the IRS about whether appropriate taxes had been apid on gifts O'Brien had given during his lifetime, she said. O'Brien died in 2004, and the foundation announced his gift in 2006, which at the time it estimated would be valued at between $2 million and $3 million. The foundation received a quarter of O'Brien's estate, but the donation's value was difficult to pin down because most of it revolved around closely held stock in the private cable company Fitzpatrick said. The foundation received an initial payment of $1 million from the estate in 2007, but the board felt it couldn't count on the money until legal issues were settled, Fitzpatrick said. The final payout from the estate came in September. Initially, O'Brien's donation had been announced as the largest unrestricted gift in the foundation's history, and the final amount proved to be larger than one previously received.... Fitzpatrick said the O'Brien Family Fund gift came as a complete surprise when she first learned of it. The size of it nearly matched the foundation's entire endowment in 1995, when Fitzpatrick first started working for the organization. "He never, ever communicated with us his intentions; I never knew him," she said. Despite the gift, the community foundation's endowment lost steam last year, thanks to a declining stock market. Fitzpatrick said the endowment, up to 35.5 million in 2007, had declined to about 30 million by the end of last year. O'Brien's gift came to the foundation without restrictions, meaning the group's board can decide how to spend the money. The unrestricted donation is especially important this year, Fitzpatrick said, because so many non-profit groups are in need of help. The unrestricted nature of the gift allowed the foundation last year to announce its largest funding measure ever -- $1.5 million for the region's 13 public libraries. Each of the libraries will receive $100,000 and an additional $200,000 will be used as seed money for the Love Our Libraries Fund that will help with continuing needs. The foundation spends about 5 percent of its endowment every year to support various non profit organizations in the community. Last year, it gave out $1.67 million. email@example.com P.S. "Did ya get the memo?"