An Investment in People
November 4, 2008
When Margaret (Peggy) St. George was planning her estate, she had one overarching goal – how to best honour her “adoptive” family and the ophthalmology community at large.
Her generous bequest to Dalhousie of more than $6 million – the bulk of the money to benefit the Department of Ophthalmology in Dal’s Faculty of Medicine – clearly fulfills her intentions.
Born in Truro in 1914, the young Peggy overcame the tragedy of losing both parents before she was eight years old. Her mother died in 1918, and then her father, who had re-married, passed away shortly thereafter. Thanks to the mutual love and admiration between Peggy and her stepmother, Rita, she was able to move forward with her life. Even after Rita later married Evatt Mathers, they maintained a close relationship.
An ophthalmologist by training, Dr. Mathers was closely affiliated with Dalhousie during his professional career, serving for many years as a lecturer in ophthalmology at the medical school.
“Rita had indicated to Peggy during her lifetime that she wanted to do something to honour Evatt,” says Ray LeBlanc, close family friend and former head of Dal’s Department of Ophthalmology. “By respecting Rita’s wish, Peggy was able to honour her stepmother.”
The result is the Dr. R. Evatt and Rita Mathers Scholarship Fund. The $6-million gift will establish a research fund, a visiting scientist program and a scholarship fund for ophthalmology students.
“Already, it has made quite an impact for some key researchers and we are in the process of setting up scholarship and bursary funding for students in the Masters of Vision program,” says Dr. LeBlanc. “There’s no question that this kind gift will make a significant difference.”
An additional $500,000 has been earmarked to establish the Warren Ogilvie Scholarship Fund, named in honour of Peggy’s father. This bequest is targeted to undergraduate students in Dal’s Faculty of Management. Her father was a successful businessman in Truro, Nova Scotia, and even as a young child, Peggy was very proud of him.
"The Warren Ogilvie Scholarship provides Dalhousie University with a unique opportunity to recognize two outstanding applicants to the Commerce program,” says Lorn Sheehan, Director, Bachelor of Commerce Program. “For the recipients, it represents a substantial reward for their excellent achievement in preparing to enter university. For Dalhousie, it enables us to attract top students who might otherwise be enticed to another university."
“All of Peggy’s donations and bequest were for an investment in people,” says Dr. LeBlanc. “Everyone benefits.”