“In the last few decades our organization has been supported by some remarkable donors giving very generous contributions,” said the association’s executive director, Curt Buchholtz. “But this gift of $53,000 for our Next Generation Fund is in a class by itself.”
Richard Whipple of Denver, executor of the Edith London estate, announced this unusual bequest in the form of a payment from the Austrian General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism.
“We received notice of this possible donation last August,” said Mr. Buchholtz. “Months ago our attorneys submitted all of the paperwork necessary to prove who we are, what we do, and our connections to the London estate.”
In May 2001, the Republic of Austria established the General Settlement Fund for Victims of National Socialism. Nearly 100,000 claims were submitted by people who lost homes or other possessions as a result of the Nazi takeover in 1938. Of all the claims submitted, about 20,000 were validated for payment by the Settlement Fund, with a total of $210 million distributed.
Among those victims were Edith London, formerly of Denver, and her brother, Marcel Prawy of Vienna. Edith London died in 2007, leaving the bulk of her estate to the Rocky Mountain Nature Association. She was preceded in death by her husband, John, and her brother, Marcel.
“Our organization has a link to some sad history,” Mr. Buchholtz said. “The impact of the Nazi era can still be felt, even 65 years after World War II ended. Some critics may argue that justice delayed is justice denied. Obviously, the settlement of these claims came too late to benefit Edith, John, or Marcel. But with this payment comes a significant lesson. It reminds us of that the real victims of Nazism were honest citizens and good, hard-working people. This gift ensures that we remember their sufferings and loss. It presents a semblance of healing to our generation.”
This gift will be placed in the Rocky Mountain Nature Association’s Next Generation Fund. Established in 2006, this fund enhances youth programs in and around Rocky Mountain National Park and aims to create the conservationists of tomorrow.
Mr. Buchholtz added that John and Edith London visited Rocky Mountain National Park often because it reminded them of Austria. An earlier gift of $3 million from the London Estate initiated an endowment fund, enabling youth programs like the American Conservation Corps and environmental education to be offered for decades to come.
“This would make Edith very happy,” he said.