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Poinsetts and Poinsettias

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.


As the year 2010 began, I was biting my nails. Sixteen months before, I had assumed the presidency of the Foundation for Economic Education at a most inauspicious moment, September 2008. That was the month the bottom dropped out of the stock market. Both revenues and spirits were down as the recession deepened. We were forced to put our hopes for growth on hold, while we focused on maintaining our programs at a sustainable level.

Then came word that a Mr. Benjamin Franklin Poinsett of Bethesda, Maryland, had passed away in November 2009 and left FEE in his will. I never had the pleasure of meeting him but quickly found him in our database. For at least a dozen years, he had faithfully given us $100 per year. I assumed that the estate gift might total a few thousand dollars.

A bequest says even more about a person’s heart and values than the checks he or she writes while alive.     

When someone bequeaths a gift to FEE, whatever the magnitude, I am as greatly touched by the gesture as I know our founder, Leonard Read, always was. A bequest says even more about a person’s heart and values than the checks he or she writes while alive. People tend to put a great deal of thought into where they want their wealth to reside when they’re gone. It’s a big part of their legacy and speaks volumes about them. In making such decisions, they ask themselves consciously or subconsciously, “What was my life all about, and how can I put the best of it to work for the…

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