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Funding Biomedical Research Programs: Contributions of the Markey Trust
eighth. In 1925, Gulf Oil leased the Waddell Ranch for 50 years, which was unusual because most oil leases are for perpetuity or for as long as the land is productive. In 1975, following the oil embargo and consequent rapid increase in oil prices, the leases expired. Through a series of court cases, Gulf fought to have the leases extended at the old 1925 rate, but eventually the Wright heirs and the other Waddell Ranch owners were victorious and the income from the new leases, which were then part of Mrs. Markey’s estate, increased dramatically. Prior to his death, Warren Wright had amply addressed the needs of his children through a trust arrangement. Lucille Wright, who subsequently married Eugene Markey, realized that her estate would go either to charity or taxes. Mrs. Markey concluded that she was not interested in leaving her money to charity as broadly defined, but rather to something that would be immediate and specific (Auerbach, 1994).
Mrs. Markey’s decision to leave her estate to medical research evolved slowly. Her illnesses and those of Gene Markey stimulated her interest in research that could impact human health. Realizing that health research is a broad field, Mrs. Markey asked Louis Hector, her attorney, to explore whether something more specific could be identified to guide the work of the charity. Hector visited the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which was established in 1972 as a national philanthropy devoted to improving the health and health care of all Americans, and the Rockefeller University, which focuses on medical research, to learn more of their activities. After hearing of the work of both institutions, Mrs. Markey concluded that the clinical aspects of health care were covered by other institutions, and that her estate should be dedicated to the promotion of biomedical research. Because of this decision the term “basic medical research” was inserted into her will.
It took her quite a while to wrap her mind around the idea of basic medical research,” says Hector, “but once she did, that was it. The money, she decided, should go for square-one stuff, to solve the most elemental and perplexing puzzles. (Fichtner, 1990).
The mission of the Markey Trust, thus was “For the purposes of supporting and encouraging basic medical research” (Lucille P. Markey Charitable Trust, 1996).
Although she had not previously been a generous benefactor, Mrs. Markey began to respond to solicitations from a variety of local institutions. The following anecdote reveals how her giving began with the University of Kentucky:
When Dr. Roach first approached Lucille Markey in the late 1970s for a contribution toward the construction of a cancer center on the campus of the University of Kentucky, she said graciously, “Of course, Ben, we’ll