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Mary Frances Fran Mathay

Mary Frances by Mary Frances (Fran) Mathay
Hathaway Brown Class of '63

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

  • Robert Frost, "Birches"


It's winter.  Trees have no leaves.  The landscape is stark and simple in its quiet beauty.  A time when short daylight and cold temperatures force us to come inside and find sheltered comfort.

Winter is a reflective season – a time to think and to deal in matters of large scope.  It is a time that permits our imaginations to take flight.  Or, a time to ground ourselves in the reality of preparing for the time when we will not have a physical presence here in this world we know.

Some winters ago, I consciously prepared for this eventuality by requesting an attorney draw up my last will and testament.  Creating your will is a deliberate way to prioritize what is really meaningful to you and to bequeath what you value to significant people or forces in your life.  When you write a name into your will – whether it is a person or institution – it is your way of proclaiming appreciation in sharing with those that are deserving of your legacy. 

When I first came to Hathaway Brown, I was like a sapling without defined roots, transplanted from industrial Youngstown to the lushness of Shaker Heights.  But, instinctively I knew I belonged in this place.

My education was my parents' inheritance to me. Hathaway Brown allowed me to be able to flourish, to articulate ideas and be more independent in my thinking.  After graduation, I lived in different cities – Charlotte, Boston, San Diego and Columbus. In 1973, I returned to Charlotte to establish my roots permanently. 

Over the past 40-plus years, I have discovered that HB – in many subtle ways – has been a supportive and comforting presence in my life.  Because of Hathaway Brown, I am part of something much larger than the few short years I was there.  A feeling of legacy and tradition continues.

Hathaway Brown is written into my will as if it were a beloved family member or endeared friend. It is symbolic of roots that let me take flight – allowed me to branch out – and extended my personal resources so that I am in a position to bend down to give back in many different ways. 

To leave a percentage of my estate to Hathaway Brown is my way of "going and coming back" to honor the many people that shared this place and time with me over the years. There are many people whom I revere and treasure both living and dead - who were associated with the School and were a significant part of my life. My inclusion in the Mary E. Raymond Legacy Society is a means for me to contribute to others who will benefit from the HB experience in years to come.

When Robert Frost wrote the poem "Birches," he alluded to both love and freedom in the journey of living and dying. By remembering HB in my will, I am preparing for the last time when I am a "swinger of birches." This legal provision is both an action of love and freedom.  Instead of "coming back," I am giving back.

Editor's Note

Since her days boarding at Hathaway Brown, Fran relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina, where she graduated with a degree in English literature and composition from Queens University of Charlotte.  She also attended a year's post-graduate business program from the Katharine Gibbs School in Boston, Massachusetts. 

Fran is the founder and principle of Mathay Communications, a strategic marketing and writing services company serving professional firms, non-profit organizations and product-driven businesses throughout the Carolinas.  She visited HB for her 45th reunion where she was immensely impressed with the School.

"I was absolutely floored with the buildings and the academic programs at HB.  I am thrilled with the diversity of the School, the curriculum is so impressive and it is all very hopeful," concludes Fran.

To learn more about how you can become a member of the Mary E. Raymond Legacy Society or other ways to support Hathaway Brown, please contact Terry Kurtz at 216-320-8799.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Hathaway Brown School 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

Bequest Language

"I, [name], of [city, state ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Hathaway Brown School [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 Hathaway Brown School 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 Hathaway Brown School 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 Hathaway Brown School 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 Hathaway Brown School where you agree to make a gift to Hathaway Brown School 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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