Jan. 22, 2009
Duluth woman left fortune for abandoned
pets, zoo critters
By Candace Renalls
Katherine Hooey of Duluth lived a quiet, simple
She wasn’t a big spender. She had no interest
in fashion and frills. And the last thing she wanted was attention.
But her lifelong love of dogs — and all
animals — is making a big impact two years after her death
at age 62. Despite modest means, Hooey left an estate worth $335,000.
She left it all to two local animal shelters and the Duluth zoo.
Each recently got a one-third share.
“Anybody who knew Kathy, knew she was going
to do this,” said her sister, Sue Woods of Duluth. “It
was just her lifestyle. It was her life. Through her love of dogs,
she appreciated animal life in general.”
Still, Hooey’s family was surprised she
had saved so much. She had worked for the phone company nearly 30
years, retiring in 2003. She lived in the family home in Duluth’s
West End. She never married, never had children.
“Her dogs were her kids,” Woods said.
For her beneficiaries — Animal Allies Humane
Society in Duluth, Friends of Animals Humane Society of Carlton
County and the Lake Superior Zoo — the $111,575 gifts were
unexpected and come at crucial times.
“It means everything,” said Jen Frederickson,
the Friends of Animals Humane Society’s executive director.
“The economy is so rough right now. It’s one of those
angel things. It truly means continuing the mission in tough times.”
Hooey wasn’t known to the current shelter
staffs. But she had attended their fundraisers and participated
in walkathons. She took in rescue dogs. She made small annual donations
to Animal Allies and had walked their shelter dogs.
“It broke her heart to see these animals
in these cages,” Woods said. “She’d go down and
walk the dogs and talk to the cats and the kittens. It hurt her.
Not that they were treated badly, it was the environment they were
in that really got to her.”
Hooey died in October 2006 from a possible heart
attack as she waited for a deaf rescue dog that she was going to
adopt and train with hand signals.
Her gift to Animal Allies is one of five major
contributions making their move to a new, larger facility in late
March a reality, said executive director Jim Filby Williams. Because
of her gift, they’ll have national best practices up and running
the very first day open.
The bequeaths were held up about a year because
both the city of Duluth and Lake Superior Zoological Society wanted
the zoo’s share, said Woods, the estate’s executor.
The city owns the struggling zoo and is responsible for the animals,
but the society is expected to take over zoo operations.
“The money just sat there a long time,”
acknowledged City Attorney Gunnar Johnson, who worked out an agreement.
The city has the money but will turn it over to
the society when it takes over. And, as Hooey intended, it will
be used for the care and feeding of the animals.