Stamford nonprofits reap $100 million from publisher’s trust

By Kevin Zimmerman

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As it nears completion of its new medical center scheduled to open later this year, Stamford Hospital got a financial shot in the arm: $50 million from the Gillespie Trust, the largest gift in the hospital’s 120-year history.

“It’s just tremendous,” said Christopher J. Riendeau, senior vice president, Stamford Health, who said that for the foreseeable future the money will be applied to the construction of the $450 million, 650,000-square-foot hospital. Ground was broken in May 2013, with construction scheduled to be completed in June; following several months of training and equipment installation, the hospital plans to open at the end of September.

Afterwards, Riendeau said, the Gillespie money will be invested in staff, facilities, and technology.

The other half of the Gillespie Trust’s $100 million payout will go to a number of other beneficiaries, primarily Stamford’s Rotary Club and First Presbyterian Church.

The trust is named after Stamford business titan Kingsley Gillespie, who was an ardent supporter of all three organizations until his death in 1984. In fact, according to Riendeau, Gillespie began his membership on the hospital’s board in the 1950s and was “instrumental in founding the [fundraising organization] Stamford Hospital Foundation, long before that kind of thing became a trend.”

Gillespie was the former publisher of The Advocate and Greenwich Time newspapers — both now owned by the Hearst Corporation — former owner of Stamford radio station WSTC-AM, a founding member and former president of The Rotary Club of Stamford, and a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Stamford for over 70 years.

“He thought in lengthy terms,” Riendeau added. “He was careful to structure his estate so that the funds would be applied to health, faith, and service.”

Gillespie’s son Kenyon, a private investor who fully supported his father’s charities, died last year. According to Riendeau, the trust’s beneficiaries were aware that they would receive the gifts from Kingsley’s estate — estimated at $26 million upon his death – when Kenyon died. “No one knew about Kenyon’s decision” to add to his father’s fund, he added, so the additional $75 million or so came as a pleasant shock.

Other beneficiaries of the charitable trust include Setauket Presbyterian Church in Setauket, N.Y., The Long Island Museum of American Art History & Carriages and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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