Smith: A gift from one Santa Rosa Panther to many future ones

A fellow who attended Santa Rosa High a long time ago, during World War II, did something pretty nice before he died.

He specified in his trust that half of his and his wife's estate go to his alma mater's education foundation.

Leaders of the Santa Rosa High School Foundation don't yet know much about the man, but they can tell he was quite good with money. He left to the foundation more than $2.5 million.

The very successful SRHS Foundation has for 25 years raised and donated money to all manner of programs and purposes at Santa Rosa's oldest high school. Last school year alone, the foundation made campus grants totalling $139,000.

Those essential gifts will continue, but this new money won't be spent that way.

The benefactor specified that his bequest go into an endowment fund and that the foundation use the earnings to grant college scholarships to Santa Rosa High students.

The trust directs the foundation's board to grant a scholarship to any student who needs help with college tuition "and who, in the opinion of the Board, demonstrates great future promise."

While they're creating the scholarship program and researching the benefactor, foundation officers are going light on details and declining to publicize his name. So far, fairly little is known about him except that he graduated as a Panther in 1946 and at some point thereafter moved away from Sonoma County.

Right now, his loyalty and generosity has leaders of the SRHS Foundation happily reeling.

They're working to find out more about him and to decide how they will administer the scholarship fund.

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