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Re: Dwight Van Rensselaer Dowley, Philadelphia, PA
Posted by: Graham Date: October 30, 2001 at 08:54:52
In Reply to: Dwight Van Rensselaer Dowley, Philadelphia, PA by Richard of 45

According to

The Woodmere Art Museum in Chestnut Hill didn't know its reticent neighbor Dwight V. Dowley, but he obviously knew and admired Woodmere, $5 million worth.

The museum is one of 10 Philadelphia cultural institutions, most of them in or near Chestnut Hill, that learned during the last two days that they are unexpected beneficiaries of Dowley's estate.

With the estate's announcement of more than $7 million in gifts, Dowley, who died in April, emerges from the shadows as a mystery benefactor who was previously unknown to the organizations that will benefit from his philanthropy.

A retired lawyer and bank examiner who made his fortune through investments, Dowley was neither a musician nor an artist, although he loved classical music and attended performances of the Philadelphia Orchestra regularly.

Dowley decided to leave the bulk of his $8 million estate to promote local cultural activities, after establishing trusts for a brother in Chicago and a sister in Chestnut Hill.

Other principal beneficiaries are the Philadelphia Orchestra ($1 million) and Chestnut Hill College ($500,000). The seven other charitable gifts range from $125,000 to $50,000.

Except for Woodmere, all the recipients were selected by lawyer Earle N. Barber Jr., executor of Dowley's estate, on the basis of discussions with his client about his interests. Barber also fixed the amounts of each gift, including Woodmere's $5 million, by far the largest gift the museum has ever received.

The museum will use the money to build an addition that could double its size. The wing will be designed by the noted Philadelphia architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown.

Frank Dowley, a retired art history professor in Chicago, said he believed that his brother singled out Woodmere "because he felt that smaller, local museums were being neglected, and that he should do something to help them along."

Michael W. Schantz, Woodmere's director and CEO, said that as far as he knew, Dowley was never a member of his museum, nor did he have any other formal relationship with it. But he said that Dowley - whom he said he never met - apparently was pleased with what the museum was doing.

According to Barber, the gifts, which memorialize the donor's family, all address specific goals.

The orchestra's $1 million will endow a chair for the principal timpanist. Barber, also a devotee of classical music, said he chose that instrument because he admired the playing of the current principal, Don S. Liuzzi. (Like other endowments of this kind, the money is invested and the income pays the timpanist's salary.)

Chestnut Hill College will get $500,000 to renovate, furnish and equip its art studio. The Philadelphia Foundation will receive a $125,000 endowment to generate scholarships for Hidden River Venture, an arts program in Lafayette Hill for disadvantaged children.

A gift of $100,000 will create an endowment to provide live music performances for residents of Bishop White Lodge at Cathedral Village, a nursing home in Andorra where Dowley spent the last years of his life. Endowments of $100,000 will also go to Center in the Park in Germantown to enhance music and art programs for the elderly, and toward scholarships to the Germantown branch of Settlement Music School.

Gifts of $50,000 each will go to the Allens Lane Art Center in Mount Airy and to Stagecrafters, a Chestnut Hill theater group, for repairs and improvements to their buildings. A $50,000 endowment is also established at the Springfield residence center of Chestnut Hill Hospital for music programs.

Dowley, who died at 86, was born in New York City in 1913. According to his brother, their mother was from a family whose Philadelphia roots went back to the early 19th century.

The family moved to Chestnut Hill in the 1920s after their father died. Besides Frank, who is two years younger, Dwight is survived by a sister, Elise, in Chestnut Hill.

According to Barber, Dowley graduated from Princeton University and Harvard University Law School. During World War II, he served with the Army in the China-Burma-India theater.

In the early 1950s, he joined the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as a senior trust examiner. He retired from the FDIC in the mid-1970s and took a similar job with the state Department of Banking. He retired from that job in the mid-1980s.

Dowley never married, and apparently built up his estate by judicious investing. "He never speculated," Barber said.


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