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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

What legacy will you leave in this world?

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Like many of you, one of the first newspaper sections I read daily is the obituary columns. They tell me that as you get a bit older this becomes a high priority reading item.

In addition to the local deaths, I also read the international obituary columns provided by the Associated Press. I'll admit I rarely have heard of any of the individuals but it's interesting in a way to share of brief glimpse of others' lives, especially those deemed important enough to warrant international news coverage.

Today I noticed the passing of Cordelia Scaife May of Pittsburgh. I honestly had never heard of this fine woman until I read her obituary. Through her brother she was remotely involved in the newspaper business but her "claim to fame" was that she was an heir to the Mellon banking fortune and listed in Forbes' magazine as among the wealthiest Americans. Her net worth was estimated at $825 million.

But here's what really struck me. The few people who knew the intensely-private woman said she was a "knowledgeable admirer of the flora and fauna of the world and was greatly concerned about the sustainability of the world's ecosystems due to the impact of the growth of population."

So there you have it. A lifetime of wealth with no responsibilities and her primary passion in life was her love of plant life.

Now I'm going to be judgmental even though I know that's not right. But I would hope a lifetime of enormous wealth and unlimited potential could generate more than an appreciation of the plant systems of the world. I could be embarrassingly wrong but couldn't someone of that enormous wealth and potential be noted for her assistance to her fellow man?

I know the tree-huggers will squirm in their seats but it just struck me as sad that this wealthy woman couldn't generate one comment about her help for others or something along that line. In some odd way, wealth of that level should almost demand an involvement with helping others to improve their lot in life. Again, I'm being overly judgmental.

I hope that when I leave this world, someone somewhere can say there was some level of compassion and involvement on my part for those less-fortunate in the world. I hope I could be noted for providing a helping hand to something other than plant life.

Ms. May may have indeed been a generous and compassionate person. But the final word on her life tells us only that her sad, private life never included the responsibilities that came with her vast fortune. And in so many ways, that's a sad legacy she leaves behind.

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