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Giving From the Heart: Dr. M. Cecil Gray and Joan Gray

Cecil and Joan

Eight years ago, Dr. M. Cecil Gray and his wife, Joan, moved from their home in Florida to the quiet, rural community of Arlington, located 20 minutes east of Memphis. Cecil, a retired veterinarian, had lived in Florida for 75 years, but after visiting Tennessee, he loved the idea of moving here and enjoying four seasons. For Joan, it was time to live closer to her family so they could spend more time with her sons, Rick and Michael Bowers, and grandchildren.

Cecil, now 83, and Joan, 81, married in 1995. Both were widowed and met at their church. Now that they are permanently settled in the Memphis area, the Grays have made a decision that will help thousands of children who live in the region receive the highest level of health care for years to come. They have designated a bequest through their estate plans to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital.

"Both of us are very concerned about children," says Cecil about naming Le Bonheur as a beneficiary in their will.

Their motivation in philanthropy is very personal. Many years ago, Joan's granddaughter, Drena Lynette Bowers, died at Le Bonheur during open heart surgery. She was only 9 months old.

"I have always had a special place in my heart for Le Bonheur," Joan says. "The care my granddaughter received was truly outstanding. Our family was very fortunate. The physicians and hospital staff were very compassionate during this difficult time."

Cecil, too, experienced a tremendous loss when he and his wife of 44 years lost an infant. They were living in Jacksonville, Fla. at the time.

"I've always been drawn to young ones and they've always been drawn to me," Cecil says. "We love children and wanted to do something for them. Our entire estate is going to charity," he says.

A native of Jacksonville, Florida, Cecil attended Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn), graduating in 1949 from veterinary school. At that time, it was one of only five vet schools in the country. After completing his degree, he returned to Florida and opened his own veterinary practice. He also served in World War II and Korea.

The couple lives in a modest home on eight acres across the street from her son, Rick. Joan loves to garden and feeds the birds. She sews for the infants in Le Bonheur's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and sings in the choir of Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett where Cecil serves as a Deacon.

Philanthropy has always been important to the Grays. When the University of Florida at Gainesville began a fundraising campaign to build a veterinary program there, Cecil was the first donor to make a contribution. While living in Florida, the Grays volunteered at the Jacksonville Baptist Children's Home. Additionally, they support the Florida Baptist Association and the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home located in Bartlett.

"We want our support of Le Bonheur to continue beyond our lives," Cecil said. "The new Le Bonheur hospital will not only impact the lives of young children, but also the adults of our region. The parents and grandparents will be the ones who really appreciate what the new hospital can offer to the children."

EDITOR'S NOTE: With great sadness we report that Joan Gray passed away on September 24, 2010.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 850 Poplar Avenue, Memphis, TN 38105, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Le Bonheur Children's Hospital where you agree to make a gift to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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