Hays A lot of people in Hays knew that Donna Limes loved animals. But few people knew that Limes, a retired administrative assistant for Southwestern Bell, had saved up $2.4 million and that when she died in 2004 she left it to the Humane Society of the High Plains.
"It was a big shock," said Rose Arnhold, president of the nonprofit organization in Hays.
The Humane Society board announced the gift Saturday at the organization's annual meeting in Hays.
Ken Havner, the attorney who handled the estate, said her gift to the Humane Society was not unusual, but what surprised everyone was the size of the gift.
"I knew Donna Limes 30 years, and she never gave any indication in any way that she had an estate of that size," he said.
Havner found out later that Limes invested wisely through a local broker.
Arnhold said the donation saved the organization.
"You can't imagine the collective sigh of relief," she said. "At that time, we were barely staying alive. The community was doing all it could to keep it running.
Limes spent most of her life working for the local phone company.
She lived for a time in Topeka, but moved home in the 1990s.
Humane Society members knew Limes as an animal lover who would stop by the Virginia Miller Animal Shelter with supplies.
"She was very quiet, very unassuming," society secretary Marilyn Marshall said. "She lived very frugally, lived in a modest home and gave modest gifts to the Humane Society."
Few people in Hays knew of Limes' intentions. "She never let on," Arnhold said.
The society had come to Limes' aid when her dog died. Judy Roscoe, then the executive director, helped Limes cope with her grief, according to a news release from the Humane Society.
A picture of Limes with her dog, Ten, will grace the shelter lobby, and the board is working on a suitable memorial. Initially, the Humane Society will use funds for much-needed shelter upgrades.
"The board is very committed to being good stewards of the money, making sure the Hays area always has a Humane Society," she said.