A check for $350,000 was handed over to the Rappahannock Animal Welfare League (RAWL) last Thursday (March 8), a bequest from a couple that neither RAWL board president Steve Carroll nor shelter director Patti Want say they had ever met.
And there is more money to come.
According to its mission statement, RAWL has made a “deep and abiding commitment to saving pet lives.” And though the county pays 35 percent of the Amissville-based, no-kill animal shelter’s estimated $160,000 annual operating fees, Carroll said that the nonprofit depends on donations and outside funding to cover the remaining 65 percent .
When Paul and Patricia Baylor of Bealton died within a month of each other in early 2011, they bequeathed a total estate valued at approximately $2.3 million to three nonprofit organizations created to help animals in need. Thirty-five percent of the estate, not yet completely liquidated, will go to RAWL; the remaining funds will be donated to the Fauquier SPCA and the Best Friends Animal Society of Kanab, Utah.
“Aren’t you wondering why they didn’t leave all that to me?” Pat Baylor’s younger cousin, Judy Allen of Lancaster, Pa., joked over the phone yesterday (March 14). “I knew they would leave money to the animal society in Utah, but I wasn’t sure about the other two in Virginia. They were such animal lovers that of course they were going to take care of the animals before the humans.”
Allen and Paul Baylor’s sister, Dorris Zander, recall the couple as passionate animal lovers – with no children – who adopted several dogs over the years from animal shelters.
The Baylors would have been married 50 years this April. When Pat had a debilitating stroke in July 2010, Zander said, her brother was heartbroken; he suffered a heart attack and died on Jan. 1, 2011; Pat died exactly 30 days later in February. The couple are buried together on an island in their pond below the log cabin they shared.
When their 60 acre Bealton estate sells, those proceeds will go to the three beneficiaries – which means RAWL could end up with a total of about $700,000.
“We were first contacted a few months after the couple died in early 2011, and we’ve been waiting [for the money] ever since,” Carroll said Monday (March 12). He said that although the nonprofit has $350,000 in hand, there haven’t been discussions of what exactly to do with it, besides using it to ensure the long-term financial security of RAWL.
“RAWL would not exist without the support of our community, and this bequest is a tremendous validation of the effort expended on behalf of the shelter by all of the RAWL volunteers, members, staff, and county employees that assist in our mission,” Want said Tuesday. “We are very grateful to the Baylors, and to all of our supporters.”
Paul’s sister Dorris Zander hadn’t known whether more money had been released when she was contacted by phone on Friday (March 9). Though Dorris and her husband, Ted, spend much of the year living in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, Zander has a summer home adjacent to the Baylor’s Bealton property.
“I was just so happy to hear that they’ve [RAWL] got some money, because when I left Virginia in the fall last year, I had heard that just a couple thousand dollars had been released,” Zander said, “and I was concerned that because the house hadn’t been sold, that they were just going to hang onto the money – those damn lawyers, excuse me.”
Zander recalls several dogs that the couple owned over the years in Bealton – Flyer, Pepper, Pooky and Peevie – and that when Paul died, Peevie would not let anyone into the house and was nearly put down.
“Well, I’m an animal lover, too,” Zander said, “and I was just screaming my head off here, just crying. And I said, ‘You cannot put that dog down until I get home; I have to find a home for the dog.’ And in all fairness, Peevie was a one-person dog; he really never even liked my husband and I – he would growl at us, and it took him about three years to get used to us. And so I probably did something I shouldn’t have done. Because it was the Fauquier SPCA that had the dog, I called them and I said – I was just so hysterical about the dog, and said – ‘Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this, but you’re going to get a lot of money from my brother, and you cannot put that dog down.’ And they didn’t.”
Joanne Perrero of Front Royal says she was Pat Baylor’s friend for 70 years, since second grade. “Was she always an animal lover? Yep, always, absolutely, positively an animal lover.”
Perrero said that although the couple was more partial to dogs, “Right at the very end, a stray cat came to the house. Paul didn’t want it, and Pat started feeding it on the porch, and sooner or later it came in the house. They just named him Cat. After Pat had her stroke, the cat took to Paul, and used to sleep on his chest.”
Though it was two years before Pat and Paul Baylor died – at ages 77 and 78 respectively – when cousin Judy Allen and her husband, Bob, had last visited the Bealton property, she recalled a paradise that the couple had created for themselves in rural Virginia.
“Whenever we visited it was like heaven,” Allen said “You never heard anything; it was so quiet except for the little wild animals. And that was their life. That’s what they really loved. “