News and analysis
February 06, 2011

No. 13: Juanita Kious Waugh

Juanita Kious Waugh

Amount donated in 2010: $83.7-million

Biggest beneficiary: Mayo Clinic

Other key beneficiary: Saint Joseph’s College, in Rensselaer, Ind.

Donor’s background: Ms. Waugh managed her family’s farms and inherited some of her wealth from the family’s banking, brick, and cattle businesses.

Ms. Waugh, who was 87 when she died in February 2010, bequeathed about $43.5-million in cash to the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minn., for education programs and building projects. She also left 7,634 acres of farmland valued “at nearly $40.2-million to Saint Joseph’s College.

Although not closely involved with the Mayo Clinic, Ms. Waugh and her mother had been patients there over the years. Her involvement with Saint Joseph’s College, however, came from her decades-long friendship with the Catholic college’s former leader, the Rev. Charles Banet, who was president from 1965 to 1993.

Though outspokenly nonreligious, Ms. Waugh met Father Banet at a dinner party and the two became fast friends, often engaging each other in debates about religion. Her bequest to Saint Joseph’s has its roots in that friendship and in her commitment to protecting her family’s farms, ownership of which dates to the late 1800s.

After Ms. Waugh’s father, Lloyd Waugh, died in 1949, the farms were managed for two years by others, but Ms. Waugh and her mother, Laura Blanche Kious Waugh, were unhappy with the way the farms were being run, so the two women took over their management. Together, they operated the farms until 1982, when Ms. Waugh’s mother died and Juanita became the sole manager. Fiercely proud of her family’s successful farming business, Ms. Waugh knew she wanted to keep the land working even after her death.

Although she had given the college small gifts in the 1970s and ’80s totaling only about $3,600, Ms. Waugh stopped donating around 1983. Yet until his death about 10 years ago, Father Banet kept her informed about the college, and in 2009 she contacted Saint Joseph’s officials as she was preparing her will.

Through her friendship with Father Banet, she had learned of the college’s agrarian history (the institution’s priests and monks had worked its land, which helped support the college in its early days).

During her 2009 meetings with college officials, she learned that Saint Joseph’s owned almost 1,000 acres of land but used only a small portion of it for the college’s purposes and rented the rest to tenant farmers. Impressed by the college’s continuing commitment to agriculture, she finalized her intentions to leave all 7,634 acres of working farmland to the college.

Ms. Waugh, a savvy businesswoman, according to those who knew her, worried that the church might one day overturn any agreement she had with the college and sell her land if it needed cash. To guarantee the protection of the farms from development or sale, she stipulated in her will and written agreements with the college that neither the college nor the church could sell the farmland, going so far as to stipulate in the transfer deed that the land could be used only for farming and wind-energy production and never sold. The deed also requires the college to establish a conservation easement that will be held and monitored by an outside entity.

Earnings from the farms—which produce 600,000 bushels of corn and 200,000 bushels of soybeans annually and contain energy-producing wind turbines—will support scholarships for students at Saint Joseph’s. College officials say the institution will receive about $1.5-million a year.

In addition to her two large bequests, Ms. Waugh left $10,000 to Brookston Federated Church and another $10,000 to Otterbein Methodist Church, both in Indiana. Although she held steady to her beliefs about religion throughout her life, she came to know the two churches through friends who attended them. Ms. Waugh also left $5,000 to the Doris Day Animal League, in Washington.

— Maria Di Mento

View more profiles of donors who gave the most in 2010.