We live in a town where one woman’s generosity continues to make a difference. Mary Hawley used her inheritance - money her father made in westward expansion – to provide her hometown with a new elementary school, a new town hall that had a bowling alley and a full size movie theater where movies would be free, a beautiful library, and a town green that she hoped to make into a rose garden similar to Elizabeth Park in Hartford. Unfortunately, Mary Hawley died in 1930 soon after laying the cornerstone for the town hall and before she could plant her rose garden.
I am telling you this, because although not every town or family has a benefactor like Mary Hawley, we do come across people who have made a difference in our lives – albeit on a much smaller scale.
In our family Bertha Agard made a difference. After she graduated from Cortland Normal School and then Cornell University, she supported herself by teaching English at Nottingham Terrace High School in Schenectady, New York. From all indications, Bertha lived a quiet life, teaching, and being involved in education. She died January 31, 1942 at St. Elizabeth Hospital. I suspect she knew she was very ill as she took a leave of absence from her teaching position and had visited her family just before her death. In her will, Bertha left my grandparents, Merritt and Maude Agard, $3,000, in which four years later greatly helped with their down payment for Taughannock Farms Inn. (See previous blog Maude Agard’s Dream) I suspect Bertha’s bequest did not alter our family history, but it might have helped my grandparents make a life altering decision. How much, we will never know. This entry is my way of thanking Bertha for her thoughtfulness and generosity.