Mary Frances Fran Mathay
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.
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.
The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in any examples are for illustrative purposes only. References to tax rates include federal taxes only and are subject to change. State law may further impact your individual results. Annuities are subject to regulation by the State of California. Payments under such agreements, however, are not protected or otherwise guaranteed by any government agency or the California Life and Health Insurance Guarantee Association. A charitable gift annuity is not regulated by the Oklahoma Insurance Department and is not protected by a guaranty association affiliated with the Oklahoma Insurance Department. Charitable gift annuities are not regulated by and are not under the jurisdiction of the South Dakota Division of Insurance.