Westport Weston Family YMCA

Western Connecticut Health Network
The Westport Weston Family YMCA

The Westport Weston Family YMCA and Norwalk Hospital have each received $40 million bequests from the estate of Ruth Thomas Bedford, it was announced today. Both institutions anticipate that the gifts will have a major, enduring impact on the communities of Westport and Greater Norwalk, Connecticut.

Bedford, a longtime Westport resident, actively supported both the Family YMCA and Norwalk Hospital. She died on June 15, 2014 at the age of 99.

A YMCA trustee emeritus, Bedford was instrumental in helping the Family YMCA to renovate and expand its original downtown Westport location during the 1980s. She was also a generous donor and longtime volunteer at Norwalk Hospital, where she logged nearly 17,000 volunteer hours in the Hospital gift shop over five decades. 

Both the Family YMCA and Norwalk Hospital are finalizing plans for use of the Bedford gifts. At the YMCA, it is expected that this endowment will ensure the long-term viability of the Westport Weston Family YMCA and its ability to serve the community, with funds earmarked for current and future capital development needs and to endow programs for wellness and youth in a way that honors the tradition of the Bedford family legacy. 

At Norwalk Hospital, a Task Force of volunteer and administrative leaders is carefully evaluating options to maximize the transformative impact of the Bedford bequest, with a goal of enhancing the Hospital’s patient care programs and services to best serve the Greater Norwalk community.

“We are thrilled to have received this wonderful gift, the latest chapter in the Bedford family’s long legacy of generous support of Norwalk Hospital,” said Edward B. Mahony, chairman of Norwalk Hospital’s Board of Directors.

Pete Wolgast, chairman of the Family YMCA’s Board of Trustees, which oversees the organization’s investments and endowments, said, “Ruth Bedford’s family has been indispensable to the YMCA for more then eight decades.  We are determined to make the family proud of how we will use this generous bequest.”

Ruth Bedford was the last surviving grandchild of Edward T. Bedford, an oil executive and philanthropist who founded the Family YMCA and whose personal and philanthropic leadership was instrumental to the growth and expansion of Norwalk Hospital. He personally underwrote the cost of the Hospital’s Bedford Pavilion, which doubled the Hospital’s patient capacity in 1929. Industrialist Frederick T. Bedford, Ruth Bedford’s father, helped the Family YMCA purchase land that eventually became Camp Mahackeno, its summer day camp.  He and his wife, Lucie Thomas Bedford, were also generous Norwalk Hospital donors.

“The profound impact of a gift of this magnitude to the greater Norwalk and Westport communities is difficult to quantify,” said Barbara Butler, a Norwalk Hospital Board Member and the director of human services for the town of Westport. “Clearly, we are extremely grateful. Ruth Bedford’s legacy will touch the lives of men, women and children in our community for generations to come.”  

A third beneficiary of Ruth Bedford’s estate is the Foxcroft School, a girls boarding and day school in Virginia, where Bedford spent her high school years.

About the Westport Weston Family YMCA

The Westport Weston Family YMCA is a 501(c) (3) non-profit charitable organization that enriches the community by developing and nurturing the potential of every child, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility. The Family Y emphasizes the values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility in its programs and services. An affiliate of the YMCA of the USA, the Westport Weston Family YMCA is governed by two boards comprised of community volunteers. As a private non-profit serving a public purpose, the Family YMCA endeavors to provide financial assistance to those who qualify. For more information, please visit www.westporty.org.

About Norwalk Hospital

Norwalk Hospital is a progressive, patient-centered regional teaching hospital serving residents of south-western Connecticut and adjacent New York. The 328-bed acute care, not-for-profit hospital offers Cardiovascular, Cancer, Orthopedic, Neurologic and Digestive Disease care with advanced diagnostics, innovative therapies and state-of-the-art surgery. The hospital is supported by its very generous community through donations to the Norwalk Hospital Foundation.

Norwalk Hospital is now part of the Western Connecticut Health Network and one of the Network’s three member hospitals including Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital, as well as their physician groups and affiliated organizations. Share your comments with us at Facebook.com/NorwalkHospital.