Skip to comments.MATC Says Frugal Former Teacher Donated $1 Million
Posted on 06/19/2006 5:55:41 AM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE, WI (AP) -- A retired school teacher who made her own clothes and saved money however she could has left $1 million to the Milwaukee Area Technical College, the school said.
Marian Drake Breskvar, who died in June 2004 at the age of 90, is considered the largest benefactor in the history of the college's foundation, said Jerry O'Sullivan, coordinator of student life at the West Allis campus.
The former Milwaukee Public Schools teacher left behind about 40 percent of her estate, pushing her total contributions past $1 million. The amount is about one-fourth of the total assets of the MATC foundation, the school said. It's expected to pay for between 20 and 30 scholarships of $500 for years.
"It's going to give thousands of students in the future the ability to go to college," O'Sullivan said. "She left her legacy, that's what it comes down to. She'll never be forgotten."
He said he misunderstood Breskvar when she walked into his office more than a decade ago. She used canes, had a slight build and wore hearing aids. She asked about a scholarship and O'Sullivan said he thought she meant she was in need of financial help.
Breskvar's generosity didn't stop with MATC. She also established a $440,000 scholarship fund at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A fund she set up at the West Allis Public Library to buy books and supplies still has $23,000 in it.
Breskvar paid attention to her investments, moved them around and saved her earnings, said Jon Barsanti, a retired accountant who helped Breskvar with her affairs over the last decade of her life
"She was absolutely a brilliant investor," Barsanti said.
Breskvar spent her money frugally, buying the cheapest items possible, her friends and family say. She made her own clothes and stayed away from what she saw as unnecessary expenses, said Kathy Valentino, who served as Breskvar's student teacher in 1970 and remained her friend. Upon her death, there was no death notice or obituary - at her request.
"She saved and saved and saved," Valentino said. "I think it was so important to her to leave a legacy because of the impact that MATC had on her life, and she knew that it would have an impact on others."
Valentino said Breskvar may have been a stern with her students, but she always cared for them.
"She held very high expectations for the children, and she really took a delight in them, even though she was very stern," Valentino said.
According to MPS records, Breskvar taught middle school from 1941 until her retirement in 1977. The Ladysmith-native was married Frank Breskvar, who died many years before she did. The couple had no children.
Shortly after she retired, she began taking classes in painting and sewing at the West Allis campus of MATC. She stopped attending classes in the late 1990s, when she lost her eyesight due to macular degeneration.
Valentino said when she couldn't read anymore, she went to MATC to use an enlargement machine. And when she couldn't do that anymore, she listened to books on tape.
"Education was just so valuable to Marian. She felt that if you were well-educated, you could do anything," she said.
One scholarship recipient, Matt Foth, said the money helped him when he could barely gather enough for tuition, housing and food. Now 24 and working on a bachelor's degree at UWM, Foth tutors at MATC's west campus. He said he met Breskvar once and was impressed at how her life had such a large impact.
"It makes me think that anybody could do something big and important in their life, regardless of who they are or where they're from," Foth said.
"A Nice Story" Ping!
For the Midwest Ping List, if appropriate. :)
This is very nice but she also should have enjoyed a little, travel, etc. Who wants to save for 90 years and then leave everything to your kids, who will blow it all in 6 months?
"Another American worker crushed by capitalistic exploitation!"
I love it! You hear these stories once in a while; a woman who never earned more than $5 an hour scrubbing toilets leaves millions to her church or some local charity.
I just love it when that happens. :)
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