For reversal -- Chief Justice Weintraub and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall, Schettino and Haneman. For affirmance -- None. The opinion of the court was delivered by Francis, J. Hall, J. (concurring). Jacobs and Hall, JJ., concurring in result.
The Superior Court, Chancery Division, held that by a letter dated May 16, 1961, Geraldine R. Dodge (Mrs. M. Hartley Dodge) made an effective gift of her art collection to plaintiff Elmira College, Elmira, New York. The collection has since been valued at slightly under $1,700,000. This appeal followed and we certified it before argument in the Appellate Division. Our review of the record satisfies us the alleged gift was not adequately established, and therefore we reverse.
Mrs. Dodge was adjudged a mental incompetent on June 18, 1963, and her husband, Marcellus Hartley Dodge, was appointed guardian of her person and property. Subsequently Dodge died, and Peter C. Netland and Fidelity Union Trust Company were substituted as guardians. She was 81 years of age at the time of the incompetency hearing. Her mental incapacity was caused by a generalized arteriosclerosis which involved the cerebral vessels of the cortex of the brain. One neurologist described it as cerebral arteriosclerosis with senile and arteriosclerotic dementia. The psychiatric condition was characterized by memory defect, disorientation, confusion and mental tension disorder, due to physiological changes associated with her advancing years and the gradual progression of the sclerosis. The condition was chronic, progressive and irreversible. Except for the brain syndrome associated with the cerebral arteriosclerosis, her general physical condition and appearance were said to be excellent. [50 NJ Page 197] Dr. Harry E. Gilliand, a Madison physician who had been taking care of Mrs. Dodge on and off since 1929, testified in the proceeding below. He agreed substantially with the diagnosis of the physicians who appeared in the incompetency hearing, that her mental condition is the result of a long, progressive deterioration. He noticed a change in her personality gradually following the death of Raymond Patterson, who had been her business manager and confidential assistant for many years. Patterson died in February 1960. "From then on and in * * * late 1961 or '62, then we were pretty sure that the things we had been seeing and were suspicious of definitely were facts." He could not fix a precise date, but somewhere in May-July 1962, "the changes were so pronounced that you couldn't help but recognize them and realize something was amiss." Another witness, Miss Mary Jane Ellis, had known Mrs. Dodge since February 1937. In September 1958 she came to live at "Giralda," the Dodge home in Madison, N.J., as a companion and general helper in Mrs. Dodge's affairs. She helped with her papers, her art collection; she "did a little bit of everything," and obviously was in regular and close contact with Mrs. Dodge. In July 1961 Miss Ellis, in company with Mrs. Dodge, had lunch with Dr. J. Ralph Murray, the President of Elmira College, and his wife. Some discussion occurred about shipment of certain art objects to the College, and Dr. Murray suggested that Mrs. Dodge come up to Elmira and bring Miss Ellis with her. In this connection Miss Ellis testified that she took Dr. Murray aside and told him it was not the thing to do, that "Mrs. Dodge had changed or was changing and that she needed to be the center of attention and just to please leave me out of things." Dr. Murray replied, "Yes, we have noticed that; that's why we want to get her up there before it's too late." Harold W. McGraw, the principal witness for the College and the person who obtained the alleged gift letter of May 16, 1961, conceded that about that time, Mrs. Dodge "was showing signs of considerable forgetfulness." Shortly
thereafter he remarked about it in some of his reports to the College. The condition noticeably worsened because on February 28, 1962, in a "Personal and Confidential" report to his principal collaborators in seeking gifts from Mrs. Dodge, he said: "I had dinner with Mrs. Dodge last night. She is certainly confused and apparently the one who talks to her last holds the inside track."
Our motive in reviewing, at the outset of this opinion, the testimony dealing with Mrs. Dodge's mental condition is not to indicate that the proof sufficiently shows incapacity to make a gift on May 16, 1961. The purpose is to project, as a proper backdrop for the evaluation of the evidence in the case, the fact that this elderly lady -- over 79 years of age at the time of the extremely valuable and momentous gift, quite obviously larger than any she had ever given before -- had a gradually progressive, insidious arteriosclerosis which apparently was not affecting her physical appearance, but which was lowering her mental acuity and moving her toward incapacity to handle her very substantial affairs.
The saga of Mrs. Dodge's alleged gift of her valuable art collection begins in 1954. At that time Elmira College, a private liberal arts college located at Elmira, New York, was in financial straits. Dr. J. Ralph Murray became its president on July 1, 1954. Before accepting the post he recognized, as did the board of trustees, that the procurement of substantial funds was mandatory "if the institution was to stay alive." It was understood that a maximum amount of his time would be spent in fund raising, that this objective would be his responsibility, and that the trustees would join him in fulfilling that responsibility. On the basis of the record before us, there seems to be little doubt that under Dr. Murray's leadership and that of a reconstructed and reinvigorated board of trustees, the combined effort resulted in very substantial improvement in all aspects of the College's condition and operation.
The other members of the board of trustees of the College who played principal roles in stimulating the alleged Dodge gift must be mentioned. Harold W. McGraw, who is vice-president of the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, had been a trustee for about 10 years prior to this hearing, and president of the board since 1957. Perry M. Shoemaker, president of the Central Railroad Company of New Jersey when he appeared as a witness in these proceedings, had been a member of Elmira's board of trustees both before and after the events under review. Both men were aware of the College's need for funds and were interested in raising them. According to Dr. Murray, when McGraw first came to the board he understood that "one of his fundamental purposes was raising funds."
According to McGraw the trustees spent "a great deal of time figuring out" how they were going to get the money needed by the College. Among other things they selected individuals to be solicited; one of them was Mrs. Dodge. McGraw was born and raised in Madison, N.J., where the large Dodge estate known as "Giralda" is located. McGraw knew Mrs. Dodge slightly in 1954, and was aware of her reputation as a very wealthy woman. Shoemaker had lived in Summit, N.J. from 1945 until late in 1960. When he became associated with the Lackawanna Railroad in 1941, Mrs. Dodge's husband, Marcellus Hartley Dodge, was a director of the company, and there is no doubt that a friendship grew up which continued over the years. Shoemaker was a member of the board of Overlook Hospital in Summit, and around 1956, after discussing the matter with Mr. Dodge, he met Mrs. Dodge and obtained a $20,000 contribution from her for the hospital.
McGraw had known Raymond Patterson, Mrs. Dodge's manager, intimately since the 1920's. Both were members of the New York Athletic Club (where McGraw resided at the time of this hearing; for how many years he had been there does not appear), and they saw each other frequently. McGraw began to talk with Patterson about Elmira College,
its financial straits, and the possibility of interesting Mrs. Dodge in helping. Thereafter Patterson arranged meetings between her and McGraw, and always attended them until his death in February 1960.
According to Dr. Murray the understanding was that if McGraw succeeded in interesting Mrs. Dodge in Elmira College, an effort would be made to obtain an appointment for him to meet her. In May 1955, McGraw reported that he had had one meeting with her and felt he had gained her interest in the College. By mid-November he advised Dr. Murray that he had spoken to Patterson several times concerning the possibility that Elmira might give Mrs. Dodge an honorary degree, in return for which "she might make a large gift that will place the college in a sound financial position." Commenting again some time later about this suggested degree, and after it had been approved by the board of trustees, McGraw wrote "I will admit that we are putting the cart before the horse in handling this situation. On the other hand, I am confident that it will pay dividends in the very near future." At this time Mrs. Dodge had made no contributions nor did she have any connections, family or otherwise, with Elmira College; and the record gives no intimation that recognition of any achievement of hers in public or private life provided the motive for the degree. The quid pro quo was intended to be a substantial monetary gift. Such bargain and sale treatment is not likely to add lustre to the prestigious reputation of honorary doctorates. Although the degree was tendered on two or three occasions Mrs. Dodge did not rush to receive it. It was not until about three and one-half years later that it was bestowed physically on her at a private ceremony.
Some time in 1956 or early 1957, McGraw arranged a meeting for lunch in New York so that Dr. Murray could meet Mrs. Dodge. As has been said above, this was in accordance with the planned approach to her. Dr. Murray had prepared carefully for such a meeting. He had gone
to the New York Public Library and obtained biographical data about the Rockefeller family (Mrs. Dodge's father was William Rockefeller); he read an article about the Rockefeller family entitled "They Were Born to Give," which had appeared in Reader's Digest; he looked at material in a file maintained in New York City by the Financial Council in Aid to Education; he inquired about Mrs. Dodge among people in the educational world, who were concerned with fund raising; and other information was obtained from Standard & Poor's. As the Doctor put it, he had studied her and the Rockefeller pattern of giving. His intention was to seek a very large gift of money from her, and he wished to be very careful about handling her properly.
From the time of this meeting with Mrs. Dodge, the campaign for a large contribution was on in earnest. On the one side were Dr. Murray, McGraw and Shoemaker, all able and knowledgeable men; on the other was Mrs. Dodge, an elderly lady, who seemed to have no close friends, and who rarely had friends or associates visit her, either at her principal home in Madison, N.J. or at her Fifth Avenue residence in New York City, where she usually spent Tuesday through Thursday. Dr. Murray described her as shy, "almost a recluse," and a person who did not like crowds. In fact she would postpone her regular visit to the City if a parade was to be held there. (Mrs. Dodge's letter of August 15, 1960 to Dr. Murray gives an insight into this attitude. She told him she had to straighten out some banking matters with the Hanover Bank and "it has caused a great many problems with us because I am not at all in favor of the new banks and their architecture. Most of those in New York are all glass and nobody has any privacy and everybody can see what is going on at all times.")
According to Miss Ellis, her Giralda home companion and helper, she rarely entertained; occasionally she had an overnight visitor. "Mostly" she was there "just with" Miss Ellis. She and her husband lived substantially separate lives. Only one child had been born of their marriage; he died
in an accident many years before the events under discussion. Her nearest relatives were some nephews and nieces, whom she rarely saw. Her husband was a man of considerable wealth and devoted himself, with the aid of a business manager, to the handling of his own affairs. She managed her great wealth independently, with the assistance of Raymond Patterson as her general manager and confidential assistant. It is undisputed that she relied heavily on Patterson. McGraw conceded that Patterson had her confidence and that if he "felt well of an idea, it generally went through." Writing to Dr. Murray on July 23, 1958, McGraw said "From the way Pat spoke he is in the frame of mind of a sizable donation and keep in mind that Pat holds the purse strings." McGraw testified that Patterson's death in February 1960 had a "strong effect" on Mrs. Dodge; he described it as "like losing her right arm." Thereafter, throughout the crucial period up to and including May 16, 1961, when the alleged art collection gift letter was signed by her, and for a number of months thereafter, she had no general manager and, so far as the evidence reveals, no advisor to whom she turned for financial advice.
After the death of Patterson, in the pursuit of gifts to the College, the advantage was with McGraw, Dr. Murray and Shoemaker, and it was never allowed to escape. It is clear from the mass of correspondence among them that there was no intention to cultivate Mrs. Dodge because of any interest in her as a person, or for social reasons. In the stream of almost-weekly reports from McGraw to the other two men (marked "personal and confidential"), relating to his many luncheon and dinner meetings with her, the singleness of their donation-seeking purpose is grossly apparent; we rarely find a kind word or a note of solicitude about her as a person, unless a reference to the fact which had drawn them to her, i.e., that she was civic minded and had done a great deal of good with her money, can be so considered. The McGraw attitude may be illustrated by reference to two of his reports, one before the alleged art collection gift
and the other thereafter when the focus was again on cash gifts.
The January 29, 1959 report of a two-hour luncheon with Mrs. Dodge and her manager Patterson said it was important for the triumvirate to "give a considerable amount of time to getting funds from Mrs. Dodge," that she is one of the ten wealthiest women in the country, with only "two nieces to leave her money to and they are hanging around for her to pass on. Also keep in mind that she is over 85 [ sic ] years old and at that age anything can happen. For this reason I think we must lay our ground work in order to get her gift or gifts by June of this year. In the next two or three weeks I think that the three of us should have a visit here in New York on this subject." The report concluded:
"The luncheon is now over in the little restaurant on 46th Street. [This is the restaurant frequented by Mrs. Dodge.] The tables are old, the chairs are very uncomfortable and it is necessary to do handsprings in order to get out of the place. Her Cadillac limousine is in Madison but the taxi she always uses was at the door and in it we all drove away." (Insertion ours.)
In a later report to Dr. Murray and Shoemaker about six months after the alleged gifts, also marked "personal and confidential," McGraw wrote:
"I am having dinner with Mrs. Dodge again next Tuesday, January 2 at Buscaglia. The seats at that restaurant are getting very hard and I hope we can do a good job the latter part of January so that we can take a few weeks off here in New York."
Dr. and Mrs. Murray also had had dinner with Mrs. Dodge at Buscaglia's. Dr. Murray's letter to her shortly before McGraw's first comment about the place presents an interesting contrast. He said "Sometime I should get you to recommend a list of restaurants in New York because each time we have had dinner with you the restaurant has been better than those we seem to find in New York City."
After the May 1955 meeting with Mrs. Dodge that Patterson had arranged, McGraw saw her at intervals until Patterson died in February 1960. The meetings were usually for lunch or dinner at Buscaglia's, the New York restaurant Mrs. Dodge had frequented almost weekly for many years. Patterson was always present. McGraw attempted to interest her in Elmira College's financial condition with the possibility of cash contributions in mind. In April 1957 she visited Elmira with Patterson. The trip was planned by McGraw; Shoemaker had his private Lackawanna Railroad car pick her up and return her to the Madison station. Both men made the trip with her and Patterson to Elmira. While there she was entertained by Dr. and Mrs. Murray; she met the trustees and toured the College and grounds. Her letters thereafter showed she enjoyed the visit and the company of the Murrays, McGraw and Shoemaker.
Up to this time Mrs. Dodge had made no contributions to the College. Shortly thereafter, she gave $30,000 in cash or securities. Visits to Giralda by the fund-raisers followed, as well as lunches and dinners in New York, and she obviously appreciated the effusive friendship they gave her. McGraw, however, remained the active agent in the campaign and he continued to have dinner meetings with her at Buscaglia's. As these meetings progressed she began to discuss donating some of her art collection. In September 1958 McGraw wrote Murray about "a special gift," and said it would include a jade collection "which she and Pat claim is the finest in the world." Unfortunately Patterson is dead and the statement attributed to him cannot be verified. It seems obvious, however, that there was and is no jade collection.
At this point a word should be said about the art collection. It consisted of hundreds of art objects, such as paintings, bronzes and antique Chinese porcelains. They were on display and in storage in the main residence at Giralda Farms; some were stored in the Dunham and West houses at Giralda Farms; some were on display at the 800 Fifth
Avenue home; others were in storage there. No part of the collection was in public warehouse storage. The art collection had been catalogued carefully in five large ledgers in 1946 by Miss Josephine Z. Rine, a writer and editor who was engaged for that purpose by Mrs. Dodge, and she kept the records current after that time. Each article was numbered and described and any disposition of an article was entered. No jade collection was listed and Mrs. Dodge never mentioned any such collection to her. Miss Ellis, Mrs. Dodge's constant companion, who helped her with the art collection and also assisted Miss Rine in her work, said there never was any mention of a jade collection, she never saw any such collection, and except for a few pieces of jade, such as an ashtray, there was no jade around. Moreover, after the declaration of incompetency a thorough search at Giralda and the Fifth Avenue residence by the guardians, in order to have the art collection appraised, disclosed no jade of consequence. According to Miss Rine, Mrs. Dodge loved her art objects; they were "like children" to her. It seems unlikely that such a person would knowingly talk about making a gift of a non-existent jade collection.
In the period following Mrs. Dodge's visit to the College and before Patterson died, McGraw pursued the subject of her art collection. He indicated in his testimony that in his view by September 1958 she had made a gift of her entire art collection to Elmira -- in her own mind and in his. But the letters between Dr. Murray and Mrs. Dodge, as well as McGraw's "personal and confidential" reports to Dr. Murray and Shoemaker, indicate otherwise. They speak of the gift she is "planning"; that she is giving "some of [her] wonderful art objects to Elmira College"; McGraw's discussion with her about "her gift of jade, china, bric-a-brac, etc." which "is going forward"; about the need for a special building "to house this gift plus any additional gifts that we receive at a later date," and that, "with this program under way, I [McGraw] believe that additional art objects that are now in storage, in her Fifth Avenue home and in Madison, [50 NJ Page 206] will be given to the college"; her letter to McGraw of October 25, 1958 saying, "As soon as the Christmas season is over, I hope to be able to make arrangements for sending along the porcelains to Elmira"; her letter over seven months later to Dr. Murray, saying she had been looking "over some of her porcelains" and inquiring if he had "ever gone further in regard to plans for the porcelains"; Murray's reply a week later saying that considerable thought had been given to "the art objects," and inquiring as to what arrangements she would "like to be made for the two cases you sent us to see in your Madison Avenue [sic] house." About this time, July 23, 1959, Dr. Murray inquired of an architect about preparing a "preliminary sketch of a potential building" with about 5000 square feet of space in it including a "couple of nice display rooms" to house the collection of jade and porcelain odd objects which Mrs. Dodge has given to Elmira College. Dr. Murray could not have had in mind a building to house the entire Dodge art collection, which literally cluttered up Giralda and the Fifth Avenue residence, to say nothing of the storage places. Moreover, in referring to the jade and porcelain odd objects as having been given, the doctor projects the thinking that characterizes McGraw's attitude, namely that of confusing the intention to make a gift or gifts with the actual making thereof; of assuming the deed when only the will for the deed had been expressed. No jade was ever donated to the College; the porcelains were not delivered until May 10, 1960, almost a year later, when with Shoemaker's assistance, 216 items were shipped by Mrs. Dodge. In this connection it should be noted that the porcelains had been stored in the Giralda cellar for years. When they were brought out Mrs. Dodge selected the objects she wished to keep. The objects given were appraised at $48,055. The ones retained were returned to the cellar and are listed in the incompetency proceedings' appraisal at $23,530. At the end of June 1960, after the porcelains were delivered to Elmira, McGraw wrote to another trustee saying that Mrs.
Dodge had given certain art objects and "has promised to give additional pieces from her vast collection."
Returning to the period of Patterson's association with the Elmira campaign as advisor to Mrs. Dodge, it appears that toward the end of 1959 she made a second cash gift of $20,000. There were no further contributions, monetary or otherwise, before his death in February 1960. Thus during the almost five years of McGraw's pursuit of her, while Patterson was guiding her, the total gifts amounted to about $50,000. After Patterson's passing, the McGraw campaign took on a markedly increased tempo. He began to have weekly meetings with her, usually for dinner at Buscaglia's restaurant.
In June 1960 Mrs. Dodge agreed to visit the College. The private Lackawanna Railroad car facilitated the trip. There she was agreeably surprised by the conference at a private ceremony of an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.
While she was at Elmira, the trustees by resolution accepted property known as Strathmont as a gift. It is located about seven blocks from the campus and consisted of about 16 acres on which were located a large main residence and several outbuildings. The property was owned by a charitable trust and had been used unsuccessfully as a public museum. At that time the College had no plan to use it for any particular purpose. Mrs. Dodge was shown Strathmont, and on returning home wrote Dr. Murray thanking him and his wife for their "great hospitality" and for the degree, and praising the beautiful Strathmont property with its ample room for "many varied activities." McGraw reported later that she told him she had fallen in love with the property and could see tremendous possibilities in developing it for the College.
The day after the short stay at Elmira, Dr. Murray wrote McGraw saying that the day and a half he (McGraw) spent with Mrs. Dodge there "was about as near perfect as possible." He said also:
"I am always amazed at how adept you are in making a pertinent comment at the propitious moment such as you did when we were sitting in the Art Gallery at the Watson Building yesterday talking about the display cases and the need for additional space.
As far as I am concerned, the respective roles each of us played produced the best course of action."
"* * * If our good fortune holds through Tuesday evening, maybe the accompanying piece of paper will bear fruitful significance of the long hours and tremendous energy you have used in the college's behalf with our good Friend."
On Tuesday, June 21 and 28, 1960, McGraw had dinner with Mrs. Dodge alone in New York and spent about three hours on each occasion talking with her "about the needs of the College and what she could best do to take an active part and be of real help." Among other things they discussed the erection of a building to house "all art objects that have been given or may be given in the future." He happened to have with him a pledge card form which he produced. Obviously it was the "accompanying piece of paper" Dr. Murray had sent him. She signed the card pledging to pay $250,000 over a five-year period. McGraw wrote on the back of the card:
"This fund of $250,000 is to be used to erect a building to house all art objects that I have given and may give in the future -- to be known as the Geraldine R. Dodge Building."
This $250,000 was five times the total of her gifts to Elmira during the years Patterson accompanied her to the meetings with McGraw.
In sending the pledge card to Dr. Murray and reporting his success with Mrs. Dodge to him and Shoemaker, he said among other things that she "is very much interested in giving more art objects to the College." He reported also that "she was most enthusiastic about becoming a member of the Board [of Trustees], provided she is elected." It is odd that in July 1960 she was "enthusiastic" about becoming a
member of the board. McGraw had suggested such membership to her by letter on November 30, 1959, less than three months before Patterson's death. She had declined saying "I do not feel that I have the time and strength to give to such a responsibility." Her letter, as it appears in the appendix, is dated May 10, 1962, although it refers to McGraw's "letter of the 30th" and to its subject matter. In September 1960, Dr. Murray officially invited her to become a member of the Board of Trustees. The record contains no answer to the invitation. Dr. Murray testified that she was appointed to the board in June 1961; he notified her by telephone. She never attended a meeting; in fact she never again returned to the College after the visit of June 1960, although importuned to do so, and after making and breaking dates for visits. The board began to send minutes of its meetings to her. Apparently, however, the full minutes were not always sent. In April 1962 an excerpt was delivered to her by McGraw, but only after the portion of the minutes covered therein had been "rewritten to strengthen them a little bit" at Shoemaker's suggestion.
Two weeks after the pledge card incident, McGraw again reported to Dr. Murray about spending over three hours with her at Buscaglia's. During that time "she had two double Canadian Club on the rocks and I had two Scotch and sodas. I did not push her for anything because I pushed her so hard two weeks ago." A few days later Dr. Murray wrote Mrs. Dodge telling her that he and Mrs. Murray had had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Giralda with her, Mr. Dodge and Mary Jane Ellis. (This was one of many meetings the Murrays had with her after the first occasion in 1956 or early 1957; apparently most of them were dinner or lunch meetings in New York.) He told her also that he and Mrs. Murray commented, on the way back to Short Hills, "that it was difficult to reach into our past and visualize a time when we were not friends. It has been so easy to develop a very warm feeling for you that it seems as if it has always been in existence."
It is obvious from further parts of this letter that there was then no plan to house art objects in the Strathmont building. The focus was on the envisioned "Geraldine R. Dodge Building" to house them "on the campus." In September 1960 a check for $100,000 in part payment of the $250,000 pledge was sent to Dr. Murray with Mrs. Dodge's notation "that this amount is to be held for the proposed building." Six days after this payment the board of trustees had a meeting, and the minutes thereof contain some odd statements about the use of her money:
"The Executive Committee discussed at some length various programs for a building to be built with the money Mrs. Dodge has pledged with the thought that flexibility was needed in any discussion with her in order that ample information could be gained in sufficient time available so that the net results of her gift could be used to the best advantage for the development of the college. It was agreed that on her trip to Elmira in the immediate future that if she named an architect he would work with her in developing the building in accordance with the number and kinds of objects that might be housed in the building."
As noted above she never returned to the College after the June 1960 visit.
In November 1960, McGraw's personal and confidential reports of his weekly dinner meetings began to speak of more ambitious projects. It is interesting to note an almost military style about them, i.e.:
"Personal & Confidential.
Report to: Dr. J. Ralph Murray
Copy to: Mr. Perry M. Shoemaker
Subject: Mrs. Geraldine R. Dodge."
On November 16 he reported one of the most satisfactory meetings "we have ever had. As you might imagine, we spent the entire evening talking about gifts of all types and primarily gifts to Elmira College." He advised that Mrs. Dodge was very much interested in getting Dr. Murray's report regarding Fairleigh Dickinson College, which (he
said) "should not be in writing but a verbal report when you next get together * * *. There will be no more gifts to Fairleigh Dickinson College, The Madison, New Jersey YMCA and other organizations in that immediate vicinity. Apparently, they do not know how to handle her."
He reported that they had discussed her finances at length. She said she had no one to leave her money to except "two nieces that she claims are waiting around for her to die. Therefore, she is thinking very seriously about other gifts to Elmira College. I am confident that in 1961, we will get a minimum pledge of $500,000 and it could easily go to two, three or four times this amount." In that connection, he was going to ask Dr. Murray and his wife to help "in this direction during the next couple of months." Then he noted: "For the first time, she seems to be feeling as if she is getting old and wants to do the things she has in mind and get them set quickly. This is sound policy for us." The report concluded by referring to all the art objects still to come to the College and requesting Shoemaker to help, because "he can handle this phase with her better than anyone else."
The next report, twelve days later, suggests she is thinking of giving all her art objects to Elmira. This, said McGraw, "will run in the millions." Also, despite her earlier pledge of $250,000 to be used for a campus building to house the art objects she had given or might give in the future, he indicated she now was thinking of using the Strathmont main house for the purpose. McGraw told her he would like to consider renaming Strathmont to carry her name, and he advised his colleagues that it "seemed to please her greatly to have her name put up in lights." At his next meeting with her he arranged a dinner meeting at Buscaglia's for December 6, 1960 to be attended by Dr. and Mrs. Murray, Shoemaker and McGraw. A table had been reserved which McGraw hoped would be in "a quiet spot," and he suggested he would appreciate it if they would "visit with her concretely about moving" her art
objects to Elmira, including, of course, the display cases. He reported also that she had in mind "giving a great deal of cash and or stocks to Elmira College in order to help in the development of the Strathmont property. However, please handle this phase with kid gloves ...