The generosity of a late Watertown police officer will benefit multiple agencies, including the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Jefferson County.
Richard M. Banister, who died in November 2012 after serving in the Watertown Police Department for decades, left $224,545.62 to the SPCA.
Douglas J. Marlow, executive director of the local chapter, called it probably the largest gift weve ever received.
It just gave me real pause for thought when we first received it, he said.
Mr. Marlow said the group learned the bequest was in Mr. Banisters will shortly after his death, but he said he did not know the size of it until a letter came from Mr. Banisters attorney. Mr. Marlow said he had to call the attorney back, thinking he was reading the amount wrong.
Its not everyday somebody leaves you a quarter of a million dollars, he said. Its a pretty amazing thing to have happen.
Mr. Banister also left a sizeable donation to Hospice of Jefferson County, though the amount could not be confirmed Monday evening.
Mr. Banisters donation to the SPCA came without any previous ties to the group.
It was a complete surprise to us that he decided to leave a portion of his estate to us, Mr. Marlow said. He said he was told the donation may have been a tribute by Mr. Banister to his mother.
Mr. Marlow said the groups board of directors will meet soon to discuss how to use Mr. Banisters donation.
Theres a number of things we need to attend to, he said.
Some of the projects that the groups board will consider are an expansion of its surgical unit, a more comfortable meet-and-greet area for animals and prospective owners, and repairs to its building at 25056 Water St.
Theres lots of things Mr. Bannisters money can go for, Mr. Marlow explained.
The SPCA will look to honor Mr. Banisters police service, and have asked for his badge so it can be displayed prominently.
We take it seriously that his memory be honored, Mr. Marlow said.