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Wauseon woman's estate to aid others

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Biddle

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WAUSEON - Dorothy Biddle, who was one of Fulton County's best-known philanthropists, left an estate worth almost $2.4 million - almost all of which will go to charity - when she died at age 106 in January.

The inventory and appraisal of her estate, which was filed with Fulton County Probate Court this month, does not include the Exxon Mobil stock she gave to the Wauseon Rotary Club. That stock was sold for $1.7 million this year to build a park bearing her name.

So, in all, dozens of charities - most of them local schools, camps, and health, service, and religious organizations - will receive about $4 million from her this year.

"She was very conscious of her community," Mrs. Biddle's longtime friend, Mary Oyer, said. "She traveled a lot and did a lot of things, but what she enjoyed most was giving to other people."

The appraisal means that Mrs. Biddle's estate appears large enough to fulfill specific gifts she made to charities in her will and still leave hundreds of thousands of dollars each for the Fulton County Health Center and Christ United Methodist Church in Wauseon.

The health center is to get half of the remainder of Mrs. Biddle's estate - after the specified gifts to other charities and estate expenses - for projects approved by her executors, Rebecca Thatcher and Vernon Oyer.

Her church is to get 30 percent of the remainder, and the Fulton County fair board and the Wide Water Camp of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church are each to get 10 percent. The fair board and the camp appear likely to get tens of thousands of dollars each.

The largest single gift from Mrs. Biddle's will was $500,000 to Sara's Garden, an alternative medical center that opened in Wauseon this month to treat patients with hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Such specified bequests are expected to be made to charities by late June, Mrs. Biddle's lawyer, Terry Kaper, said.

The story behind Mrs. Biddle's fortune appears to be simply holding investments for decades and living modestly.

Her husband, Clark, who died in 1972, was a livestock breeder and president of the board of the former Peoples Savings Bank in Delta. They had no children and no nieces or nephews.

Mrs. Biddle, who was an only child, inherited stocks both from her family and from her husband.

She lived on Wauseon's Burr Road in a house valued at $137,500, drove - until the last few years - a 1996 Oldsmobile valued at $3,500, and had $4,000 in household goods, according to the appraisal.

More than half of her estate was in National City Corp. stock, valued at $1.3 million. She had almost $68,000 in General Electric Co. stock, $26,000 in Alltel Corp. stock, and $22,000 in SBC Communications Inc. stock.

Mrs. Biddle held municipal bonds in several entities. She had more than $16,000 in Wauseon Exempted Village School District bonds and about $5,000 each in bonds with a hospital in Cuyahoga County and a convention center in Washington.

She had $9,700 in corporate notes with Bank of America Corp. and about $5,000 each with Bear Stearns Co. Inc. and Oneok Inc. She had more than $5,000 in Countrymark Cooperative. Most of the rest of her money was in mutual funds. The largest was more than $107,000 in Van Kampen Growth & Income Fund.

She also kept hundreds of thousands of dollars in certificates of deposit in five banks: Farmers & Merchants State Bank, State Bank & Trust Co., Sky Bank, National City Bank, and First Federal Bank.

Contact Jane Schmucker at:

jschmucker@theblade.com

or 419-337-7780.

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