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Anonymous But Not Forgotten

By Jack Miller
Director of Gift Planning

Elizabeth Bruck Carroll rarely ventured out of her apartment. She was a private woman who spent much of her time supporting her community from her living room at St. Barnabas Retirement Village.

Her fiancé was killed in action during World War II. The man she later married was blinded by diabetes and totally dependent upon her until he died more than three decades ago. The couple had no children.

These may have been factors that contributed to Mrs. Carroll’s independent attitude and abhorrence for pity. She accepted her fate and moved forward because of her Faith.

I met her while director of planned giving for St. Barnabas Charitable Foundation. Then 80, she was conducting an income tax clinic for the “older residents.” She did it with passion only a volunteer could understand. I think she took an interest in me because I could provide her with new insight into the tax code and how it might be used to help the people she was counseling.

As we got better acquainted, I learned that she spent much of her childhood on Mt. Washington, although her family roots could be traced to a house atop Milroy Street on the North Side, one of the steepest disconnected streets in the city. I grew up near the bottom of that street, giving us many common reference points, most now buried under Interstate 279.

Like most persons in their eighties, Mrs. Carroll feared outliving her money. Given her husband’s health history, she couldn’t stand the thought of being dependent upon others, a fear that led her to explore the merits of planned gifts. Eventually, she created a gift annuity that tripled her income and would result in a gift to St. Barnabas Charitable Foundation at her death. She insisted that no one ever know about it or any of her gifts until after her death.

Over the next 14 years, Mrs. Carroll established three other annuities; one was with Landmarks. When I asked why she wanted to support our mission, she reminded me of Milroy Street. “All that remains of that house,” she said, “is a vacant lot and memories. They took the house; they can’t take the memories. You can help save both buildings and memories for those who come after me.”

Mrs. Carroll died on Wednesday, February 28th at 5:25 a.m. She would have been 95 on May 8th. Per her wish, the proceeds of her gift annuity, nearly $40,000, will be used to create The Elizabeth B. Carroll Named Fund to support Mt. Washington and North Side preservation efforts. Per her wish, I waited until now to share this story. For Landmarks, her Named Fund will be her legacy; for me, the empty lot on Milroy Street will forever be holy ground.

Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation

100 West Station Square Drive, Suite 450

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-471-5808  |  Fax: 412-471-1633