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Math professor leaves his all 

Posted by | Catholic Charities Communications

Through Gavin Bjork’s generous estate gift, his legacy will live on in support of Catholic Charities’ robust social services.

You never know who has the clients of Catholic Charities deep in their hearts.

As far as anyone knows, Gavin Bjork had not been a donor to the agency, which serves houseless people, low-income Oregonians and refugees, among others. But upon his death a year ago at age 86, the retired Portland State University math professor left his entire estate to Catholic Charities. It was a surprising but welcome gift.

The bachelor don was born and grew up in Montana. He came to Portland in 1966 to teach mathematics at Portland State University. He said it was his good fortune to have had the fulfilling job of helping students learn.

Professor Bjork lived alone and outlived his family, but he had a group of supportive friends. He asked that there be no services upon his death.

His estate included a downtown Portland condominium that was full of paintings and drawings, pottery and a bicycle.

Gavin Bjork’s bicycle, one of many items he left to Catholic Charities.

“With his generous gift it was clear that we left as much of an impression on him as he did us,” says Wendy Marsh, chief development officer for Catholic Charities of Oregon. “I sincerely wish we had an opportunity to thank him for his support of our mission while he was with us. We look forward to putting these funds to great use in support of our programs honoring his legacy and keeping doing good for years to come.”

Is Catholic Charities of Oregon a part of your estate plane? If so, please let us know so you can be a member of our Legacy Society and we can honor you during your lifetime. Contact Laura Foley at lfoley@ccoregon.org.

These past two years have seen a significant increase in the number of Catholic Charities donors who have called wanting to include us in their estate plans. At the same time, we’ve seen a concurrent growth in both qualified charitable distributions from traditional IRAs as well as gifts from donor advised funds. These are all very tax-wise ways of giving, especially for those who do not itemize on their tax returns.