Leaving the Gift of a Lifetime And Beyond

How Cathy Housdorff’s gift in her will honours her father and advances research and patient care for the future

It was September 2020. Cathy Housdorff drove eight hours to Regina to see her father. They sat outside in the courtyard six feet apart, and she couldn’t even hold his hand due to COVID restrictions. That was the last time she saw him. Lovingly referred to as “Stan the Man,” Housdorff’s father died three months later of Lewy Body Dementia, the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s. He had turned 90 years old only a few weeks prior. Stan’s bond with Cathy and her sister strengthened in the many years after their mother died at 57 years old. Stan and his wife had worked hard to put both of them through university, which was not easy but important to their family. After he passed, Housdorff contacted the University Hospital Foundation (UHF) looking to leave a legacy gift in her will in honour of him.

“I wanted to give something back, for being grateful for what I’ve been blessed with,” says Housdorff. “And I didn’t want to just do $100 every paycheck. I wanted it to be significant, and I’m doing it in my dad’s name.”

Housdorff learned about groundbreaking research being done at the University of Alberta that may one day reverse memory loss in people living
with Alzheimer’s. She knew she wanted her gift to support that research, so other families may get the chance to have more time with their loved ones.

“The amazing thing about legacy giving is that you can out-live your life, in terms of impact,” says Caroline Thompson, director of philanthropy at UHF.

“Collectively, the estate gifts we receive have an incredible impact on the organization, and it’s important to note that donors can direct their legacy gift to a specific area of care or research that’s important to them.”

Housdorff’s gift in her will is also a nod to the doctors who helped her through her own health scare. In 2013, doctors found a benign tumour growing on her pituitary gland. Housdorff has undergone two neuro surgeries and a noninvasive Gamma Knife radiosurgery to remove and prevent the tumour from growing.

“If what I’m doing can make a difference for even just a few people, then that’s significant,” says Housdorff. “And that makes me feel even better. That’s not why I’m doing it, but I’m happy to tell people what I’m doing because I’m proud of who I am and I’m proud of my dad.”

A “legacy gift,” sometimes known as a “planned gift,” is a donation of money or portion of an estate given to a charitable organization through a will. These gifts are a meaningful way to leave the world a better place. To learn more about how you can leave a gift in your will, please reach out to legacygifts@givetouhf.ca.

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