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Nancy Weston

Nancy Weston loved to share her passion for Yosemite with family and friends. From 1950 to 2008, she visited the park 41 times. Her journals are full of her Yosemite musings, and her family’s memories are full of their trips together. When she passed away in 2011, she left behind a generous unrestricted bequest to Yosemite Conservancy, which was used to provide significant support for the restoration of Mariposa Grove.

“Of course, it means a great deal to our family that Nancy’s final gift supports the Grove,” says Juliette Weston Suhr, Nancy’s older sister. “But it also makes a huge difference to every other person who gets to enjoy it. Many, many people will get to enjoy the sequoias.”

Including Yosemite Conservancy in your will or trust, or as a beneficiary of a retirement account, is an impactful way to provide for Yosemite’s future. There are a few important aspects to consider when making this type of gift. First, review your decisions with your attorney and/or your financial advisor. Then, let us know how you’d like your gift to be directed. We can help make sure that your gift can be used as you intend, and help avoid problems that may be costly to your heirs or that may result in Yosemite Conservancy not being able to accept your thoughtful bequest.

John & Carol Luckhardt

Devoted lovers of redwoods, John & Carol Luckhardt provided an unrestricted bequest to the Conservancy in their estate plans, which was added to the Conservancy’s Legacy Fund. When the 2021 mono wind event destroyed giant sequoia trees and caused damage to structures and walkways, their bequest and the Fund provided support for repairs.

The Legacy Fund acts as a “rainy day fund,” which helps Yosemite Conservancy respond when disaster strikes. This fund allows flexibility so that the Conservancy can respond to the needs of Yosemite National Park at whatever time your gift is realized.

Most donors who create bequests simply name Yosemite Conservancy among their charitable beneficiaries. When this happens, the gift becomes part of the Yosemite Conservancy Legacy Fund, which serves as a long-term investment in the future of the park. Only a small portion of Legacy Fund investment returns are spent in any given year, meaning that the gift that came from your life savings will act as a savings account for Yosemite well into the future.

Leaving Your Legacy

If you choose to designate your bequest to a particular program, we can help make sure that your gift will be used appropriately. Bequest gifts are unpredictable in terms of timing, and the needs of Yosemite may have changed by the time your bequest is received. Rather than naming a specific project, we recommend that you look at our areas of focus: Trail Rehabilitation & Access, Wildlife Management, Cultural & Historic Preservation, Habitat Restoration, Scientific Research, Youth in Yosemite, or Visitor Services & Education. To ensure that your bequest can be used as you intend, it’s best to contact us before finalizing your paperwork. Some of the work that seems urgent today may not be urgent in Yosemite’s future! If you’ve already included a bequest and have any questions about how it might eventually be used, feel free to get in touch as well.

When you let us know that your plans for a legacy gift are in place, you’re entitled to join the Yosemite Conservancy Legacy Society. As a Legacy Society member, you’ll receive special event invitations and recognition on our donor lists in Yosemite Valley. You are not required to share the details of your bequest commitment, but letting us know helps us plan for Yosemite’s future, and provides us the opportunity to say thank you!

To learn more, to ask questions about other ways to create a legacy gift, or to notify Yosemite Conservancy of your intended gift, please contact Catelyn Spencer, [email protected].