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Jefferson County SPCA receives substantial bequest

Officer Richard M. Banister, retired police officer
Richard M. Banister

When Douglas J. Marlow, Executive Director of the Jefferson County SPCA, learned the animal shelter was to be one of the recipients of a large bequest, he was grateful for the news. However, he never expected the amount of money to surpass any gift the JCSPCA has ever received.

"It just gave me real pause for thought when we first received it," Mr. Marlow said, adding that he called the lawyer back just to confirm the figure was not a mistake. "It's not every day somebody leaves you a quarter of a million dollars. It's a pretty amazing thing to have happen."

The director announced the gift, which amounted to $223,545.62, during his weekly visit with the WWNY TV7 morning news show this week. The incredibly generous donation came from a local police officer, Richard M. Banister, who passed away in November 2012 at age 72. Mr. Banister had a long career with the Watertown Police Department.

Mr. Marlow said he had been notified by the estate attorney some time ago that the SPCA would receive 25% of Mr. Banister's estate. But he had no idea the sum would be such a large one. He added that Mr. Banister made no stipulations about what the money could be used for, leaving that decision to the discretion of the director and the Board of Trustees. The retired police officer had no previous connection with the shelter. Mr. Marlow said he was told the police officer's gift may have been a tribute to Mr. Banister's mother.

Mr. Marlow told 7 News the SPCA plans to honor Mr. Banister for his generous gift and his service to the police department. The SPCA has requested the officer's badge in order to display it in a prominent tribute to the donor. "We take it seriously that his memory be honored." He added there are any number of items that need addressing at the shelter, including much-needed repairs, an expansion of the surgical area and the creation of a meet-and-greet section for the animals and their prospective adopters. The Board will discuss these and other projects at an upcoming meeting.

Several other local agencies were included in Mr. Banister's Will, including Hospice of Jefferson County.

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