WilMar Estate Vancouver-FlickrA shy and reclusive heiress who lived alone for 20 years in a rambling mansion left the bulk of an estate worth $40 million to the Vancouver Foundation.

One of the largest charitable bequests in British Columbia history, the fund will add $700,000 per year to the hundreds of thousands of dollars the community foundation already spends on non-profits and BC projects focused on youth homelessness, the arts, parks, and people with disabilities.

Little is known about Judith Jardine. She was sole heir to the wealth of the Kitchen/Jardine families of Vancouver and the 2.5 acre (1 hectare) WilMar estate, built in 1925.

“We were completely surprised by this generous estate gift,” said Vancouver Foundation President and CEO Faye Wightman, who had never met the woman.

She was an only child and made the bequest in her will to honor the memory of her father, William Jardine, with instructions to set up a fund called the W.E. Jardine Memorial Fund.

Judith Jardine was born October 4, 1924 to Gladys (Kitchen) Jardine and William Jardine. Judith’s maternal grandfather, Willard Kitchen, lived and worked in New Brunswick building railways, where he apparently amassed his fortune. After moving with his family to Vancouver, he became a director of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway, which later became BC Rail.

Judith was active in Vancouver’s arts community, serving as board secretary of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver from 1962 to 1979 and co-authored a book on the history of the council. She never married and had no children or heirs. She suffered from dementia in her final years, and passed away on May 7, 2006 at the age of 82.

“From what we know about Judith Jardine, she lived a relatively quiet, unassuming life, but upon her death in 2006 she made an uncharacteristically big splash with this bequest,” said Ms. Wightman. “The ripples of her generosity will be felt for generations to come.”

(READ more in the Vancouver Sun)

Thanks to Craig Withers for submitting the link!

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