It's always interesting to me how a slight shift in semantics can completely change the meaning of a story. For instance, take Glenda Taylor DeLawder, a wealthy Tennessee woman who recently passed away and left her $1.2 million fortune to the animals of her native Carter County – a generous, egalitarian twist on the familiar story of a wealthy eccentric willing her fortune to an individual pet. The announcement of the gift was made, fittingly enough, on Christmas Day, by Leon Humphrey, Carter County Mayor:
"Today, December 25, is a day that many people celebrate Christmas and give thanks for the year past. As families and friends gather together in fellowship and exchange gifts, many families include their beloved pets in their celebrations. Many people treat and love their pets like children and many people who don't have children consider their pets their children. One Carter County Citizen exemplified this love, the late Glenda Taylor DeLawder. Mrs. DeLawder so loved cats and dogs that she left her estate, $1.2 million to be used exclusively to help care for Carter County's cats and dogs."
The first order of business in fulfilling DeLawder's wishes is a $540,000 gift to the Elizabethton Carter County Animal Shelter. This gift will be put towards constructing an expansion for the shelter's holding areas for dogs and cats, and a new van for transporting the shelter's animals to off-site adoption events, and clinics for spaying and neutering. Here's the mayor again:
"Mrs. DeLawder's family asked me to share with you that she loved her cats and dogs so very much and wanted her love and care of them to be her everlasting gift. I think Mrs. DeLawder would be very pleased that her gift will be able to provide for future cats and dogs at the Shelter for as long as the Shelter exists."
Math experts already know that the DeLawder estate's $540,000 gift leaves almost half a million left for the animals of Carter County, and it remains to be seen exactly how and when that additional money will be spent. But, as Glenda DeLawder wanted it, it won't be on any spoiled relatives (or pets, for that matter), but instead the animals of her hometown that need it the most.