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The Legacy of a Humble Man

Millard H. Wilson Jr. was, by all accounts, a humble man who never sought attention. Nearly a year after the former telephone repairman's death at age 69, he's suddenly getting plenty of attention-with more to come.

Wilson, a Severna Park resident who retired after 35 years with the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co., left an astonishing legacy to Baltimore Washington Medical Center: an estate valued at more than $2 million.

Officials at the Glen Burnie hospital, who announced the donation last week, will place his name on a plaque in the critical care unit of the patient tower under construction, part of a $117 million building project scheduled for completion early next year.

"It is the largest estate gift the medical center has ever received", said Beth Peters, executive director of the hospital's foundation. "Words cannot describe how grateful we are for Mr. Wilson's gift."

Part of the crew that in 1965 installed the phone system at the hospital, Wilson lived with his parents, Grace Myers Wilson and M. Hamilton Wilson, on nearly 3 acres that the family purchased along Cypress Creek in the 1940's.

He enjoyed crabbing, fishing, and gardening, said Charleen Keitel, the Wilson family representative and a close family friend, and spent much of his free time working on his pride and joy, a 1956 wooden cabin cruiser.

"We have been taking care of each other for 48 years," Wilson wrote in notes he left behind. The Polly Anna II , which may have honored his mother's nick-name, Polly (for her fondness for chatting), remains in perfect running order.

The Wilson estate includes the boat, family home, and two rental houses that Hamilton Wilson built; the land holdings are worth about $1.7 million, Keitel said. The rest he saved over the years, building a stock portfolio and IRAs.

"He and his father bought telephone stock over the years," she said, "and when the phone company diversified in 1984, Millard kept all those little phone companies."

Bill Kerney, his neighbor for 20 years, said Wilson was frugal but not cheap.

"He believed two things: things that have value shouldn't be thrown away, and living life in the the traditional way. He has this old lawn mower that he could have easily gotten rid of, " Kerney said, "but he kept repairing it because it was his father's."

"He would give you the shirt off his back and insist that he get nothing in return," said Kerney who, unlike Wilson, was not a fisherman.

"But," he said, "I was the beneficiary of everything he caught."

His generosity extended further. Keitel recalled that Wilson caught and cooked crabs every Sunday for an elderly friend of his mother's. During the last year of the woman's life, he provided for her care with a monthly check for $2,000.

"Even when he was not well and in a nursing home, he made sure that I got the money to her," Keitel said.

Wilson was his mother's caregiver until her death in the fall of 2004. She would have been 100 years old the following spring.

"We should all wish for a son like him," said Keitel.

Wilson felt a deep connection to BWMC, having been treated there for lung cancer during the final two years of his life.

"He was dying of cancer, and he still took time to thank everyone," said Kerney, who accompanied him to his treatments.

The new tower's second-floor critical care unit, which will increase the medical center's intensive-care beds for monitored patients to 36-the total bed count in the new tower is 111-is one of the three additions and improvements under way. The third floor will be dedicated to women's health and will return obstetrical care to the medical center with an 18-bed obstetrics unit, for the first time since shortly after it opened. The 15,000 square-foot emergency department expansion, located in the main hospital wing, is expected to open this summer.

The Conservation Fund, a national environmental organization, is now working with the hospital to encourage Anne Arundel County to buy the Wilson property and use it as parkland.

"Beth and I have worked very hard to try to get the land preserved in some way," Keitel said. One option being considered is to us the land as a canoe and kayak launch site.

BWMC is not Wilson's only beneficiary: He also left $100,000 to his mother's church, St. Margaret's Episcopal Church on Pleasant Plains Road in Annapolis.

"He was a marvelous guy," said Kerney, " a unique guy, especially in this day and age."

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Baltimore Washington Medical Center Foundation 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 Baltimore Washington Medical Center Foundation, a nonprofit corporation currently located at 301 Hospital Drive, Glen Burnie, MD 21061, 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 the Foundation 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 the Foundation 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 the Foundation 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 the Foundation where you agree to make a gift to the Foundation 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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