In accordance with her last will and testament, the late Lucy Harrell was sent “out with a bang” Saturday night with a fireworks display at Letnikoff Cove.
“She wanted the people of Haines to have a nice fireworks display,” said Jim Studley, a trustee of Harrell’s estate. “Part of her will said that she wanted ‘to go out with a bang.'”
It’s not the only thing she wanted the people of Haines to have. The remainder of her estate, roughly $1 million, will go to nonprofits that serve the disabled, the poor, those with mental health needs, seniors, Hospice of Haines and Haines Assisted Living (HAL) through the Lucy Harrell Memorial Fund that will be dispersed by the Alaska Community Foundation. A local advisory committee of five will make recommendations on the dispersal of monies.
Harrell, who died two years ago, gave millions to Haines over the course of her life and left more in her will. In May 2020, her trust doled out $1 million to the Chilkat Valley Community Foundation, $100,000 to the Haines Sheldon Museum, $200,000 to Haines Assisted Living and $25,000 to the American Bald Eagle Foundation.
“It was all the remaining funds of her estate that were to be liquidated and put into that fund,” Studley said of Harrell’s memorial fund. “She basically wanted all her money to go to her favorite nonprofits and charities. She gave away millions of dollars. You can’t even imagine how much she gave away.”
Vince Hansen is the chair of the advisory committee. He said the committee members want to be responsive to local needs, but also want to make the fund last as long as possible. The money will only go to nonprofits. He said the committee will meet next week to address more specific criteria and consider funding requests.
“Her generosity continues,” Hansen said. “It’s been two years since she died and here it is two years later and she’s still giving. It’s just like Lucy.”
Harrell founded Haines Assisted Living and donated roughly 80% of the funding to develop that building, as well as the Soboleff-McRae Veterans Village and Wellness Center, Studley said. Harrell called herself a “tightwad,” and lived humbly, even frugally, according to her obituary. “She drove an old truck, lived in a modest log cabin prior to HAL, and patched coats rather than replace them,” Heather Lende wrote.
She died at HAL on Sept. 7, 2019 at age 95.
Harrell told an interviewer in 2015 that her wealth “wasn’t brilliance on my part, but the economic conditions of my time. I got lucky, basically.”
Studley said her family comes from a long line of industrialist and real estate developers, and that she had her own investments in her lifetime.