Woman leaves legacy with $4M gift
By CAITLIN DAVIS Senior staff writer
Mar 4, 2014, 14:46
(CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT) Lisa Sharpe presents Florence “Bea” Hosack with a portrait of her younger sister, Sue Gibbs, at the dedication ceremony on Friday. Gibbs left $4 million to groups in Hopewell upon her death.
HOPEWELL — A year ago, Ursula “Sue” Gibbs, 97, passed away. Those close to her knew her generous spirit, and her laughter was a sound they will never forget.
Still, there are many in the city who are not familiar with the longtime Hopewell resident, but now Sue has left a gift that will leave a lasting legacy in Hopewell.
In August of last year, about six months after her passing, executors of Sue’s estate delivered a $4 million check to the John Randolph Foundation to establish four endowment funds to be used in various areas of Hopewell.
Twenty percent, $800,000, will be used to create the Ursula M. Gibbs Endowment for the benefit of the Beacon Theatre. Another 20 percent, $800,000 will be used to create the Ursula M. Gibbs Endowment Fund for the benefit of Weston Manor and finally, 20 percent, $800,000 will be used to create the Ursula M. Gibbs Medication Endowment Fund, which will assist residents in the city and the surrounding areas, purchase medication should they need the help.
The remainder of the endowment, totaling $1.6 million, will be used to create the Ursula M. Gibbs Memorial Endowment Fund to support the missions of the John Randolph Foundation. $4 million is “perhaps the largest gift left by one person to a nonprofit in Hopewell’s history,” a press release from the foundation states.
Sue’s generosity to not only the John Randolph Foundation, but to the city, was honored at a dedication ceremony on Friday. Her legacy was also honored by the John Randolph Foundation by dedicating the first floor room at the foundation, now known as The Gibbs Center for Philanthropic Endeavors. The foundation also established the John Randolph Foundation Legacy Society to recognize “persons that have remembered John Randolph Foundation in their wills or who have otherwise made provisions for the Foundation in their estate plans.”
The first floor at the foundation was filled on Friday afternoon, as many in the community gathered to share memories of Sue and honor her $4 million contribution to Hopewell.
Sue’s younger sister, Florence “Bea” Hosack, was seated in the front of the room, as many came over to share their memories of her older sister and pass on a kind word about her love and benevolence. Not only was Sue’s gift a surprise to members of the foundation and members in the community, but to her own sister. While the amount was a surprise, her sister’s philanthropy was not.
“She was always giving money away but I didn’t know how much she had,” Hosack said. “My sister was a unique human being. Everybody loved my sister.”
Hosack also remarked that her sister, while unaware of her wealth, was always saving money, at times appearing a bit magical with her bank account.
“She could always save money,” Hosack said. “I think her first job she’d make $5 a week and she’d save $10. How she got the other $5, I don’t know.”
While Hosack traveled the world, sometimes with her husband and sometimes through work she did at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., her sister Sue stayed home in Hopewell at her longtime home in City Point, working alongside her late husband, Louis Gibbs, a partnership that was admired by her younger sister.
“She was just unusually sweet and her husband was the same way,” Hosack said. “They were a couple that you rarely see so happy but they are, but I don’t think I ever saw them fuss at each other about anything.”
Not only did Sue live in the city, she worked for the city as the deputy commissioner of revenue for more than 20 years. The husband and wife also spent their weekends fixing up homes to rent or sell.
Though the Gibbs’ $4 million gift was quite large, it is not the first the two have shared with the community. In 2003, the Louis and Ursula Gibbs Endowed Scholarship Fund was created. Since that time, $36,000 has been awarded to area students. According to a press release from the foundation, the fund currently sits at almost $120,000.
Members of the city also shared their gratitude for the kindness shown by Sue in her donations. David Harless, president of the Historic Hopewell Foundation’s Board of Trustees, said the endowment to Weston Manor means stability for years to come.
“The most challenging thing for a nonprofit is getting money,” Harless said. “It’s hard to count on any steady stream to take care of your requirements and this is going to make a tremendous difference.”
For City Manager Mark Haley, the endowment left to the Beacon means creating memories for the generations that have never experienced the theater, as it just opened its doors after being closed for 30 years.
“This gift will help the Beacon continue to smile for all the kids for generations to come to form their own memories,” Haley said.
As the portrait of Sue was unveiled at the ceremony, painted by Ed Hatch, as well the plaque that will bear the words of the impact she had on the community, Hosack bowed her head and smiled quietly as the portrait of her sister smiled back at everyone in the room.
Lisa Sharpe, executive director of the John Randolph Foundation, also presented Hosack with the portrait that was used by Hatch to create the painting of her sister.
The sentiments of the community were captured by Sue’s longtime friend, Mary Frances Pito. The pair met in 1952 as employees of the city, soon forming a close friendship that would last for many years.
“You always came away feeling good,” Pito said of spending time with Sue. “She was very positive and she never had a cross word to say about anybody and I just hope that someday I can live up to her, her characteristics.”