Woman leaves $285,000 to Frankfort Humane Society

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By Kristina Belcher and Michelle Sokol
The State Journal
After Jean Wheeler’s mother, Jean Gravitt, died in December, she got to work.
She and her brother, Jim Anderson, cleaned up her mother’s home, painted, cleaned the carpet and put it up for sale — knowing the entire time they wouldn’t receive a penny of the profit.
Gravitt left her entire estate, totaling almost $285,000, to the Franklin County Humane Society.
“They’re not wealthy people. They’re people who work hard,” Wheeler’s lawyer, Bill Kirkland, said.
Kirkland said Gravitt’s children never once tried to break the will to keep the money for themselves.
“They didn’t try to take advantage or make a deal,” Kirkland said. “They just said, ‘OK, we’ll do it.’”
Sam Marcus, president of the humane society, said the money gives them a jump-start in a capital campaign to build a new shelter.
“We are thrilled about it,” Marcus said.
The humane society has been hoping to move away from the flood plain. Its current shelter on Kentucky Avenue has suffered water damage numerous times in the past.
“It’s certainly not our intention to build a Taj Mahal of shelters,” Marcus said. “We don’t feel that’s appropriate and we don’t feel that’s necessary.”
Marcus said they estimate the new building will cost around $2 million.
Gravitt’s estate will be added to a PETCO Foundation grant — worth $77,000 — and $40,000 currently in their new building fund.
In total, the humane society has almost $400,000 toward its goal.
Marcus said the money means they can start seriously looking at possible sites for a new shelter.
“We owe it to Jean Hill Gravitt, Jean Wheeler and her brother to seriously take steps toward a new shelter,” Marcus said. “We will certainly take seriously the responsibility to get the Humane Society a new home in her honor.”
The humane society was scheduled to hold a presentation ceremony for Gravitt’s donation at the shelter at 2 p.m. Tuesday.