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Descendants of Family Y Founder Edward T. Bedford Continue His Legacy of Giving to Our Community

Nearly 90 years ago, Edward T. Bedford, a director of Standard Oil and Westport’s leading benefactor, built a brand-new Y.M.C.A. for our community.

On Sept. 5, 1923, while dedicating the new Y, Bedford told a large audience of Westport citizens and visiting dignitaries, “All we desire is that it may be most generously and properly used and that we may be permitted with you to continue to contribute to both its upbuilding and financial support.”

The Bedford family’s remarkable legacy of support continues to this day, as the Westport Weston Family Y proudly announces recent contributions from two Bedford great-grandchildren. Lucie McKinney has pledged $500,000 in support of the Y’s campaign to construct a new Y facility. She is joined by her brother, Briggs Cunningham III, who has agreed to donate $250,000 toward the new Y at Mahackeno.

Lucie McKinney, who lives in Westport, is the mother of five children, including Y Board Members Libby McKinney Tritschler and John H. McKinney, who is serving his seventh term in the Connecticut State Senate. Briggs Cunningham resides in Kentucky.

“The Family Y is what it is today – a vibrant provider of essential community services – through the beneficence of Edward Bedford and his descendants,” said Jim Marpe, Chairman of the Family Y Board of Trustees. “That includes the purchase in 1944 of our Mahackeno property, when F.T. Bedford, Edward’s son and Lucie and Briggs’ grandfather, agreed for the Bedford Trust Fund to pay half of the price, provided the community would pay the other half.”

“Within a few weeks, the people of Westport had given $10,000, which allowed us to take legal possession of our camp property and which, some 70 years later, will pave the way for the relocation of our new Y facility to our magnificent Mahackeno campus,” Marpe adds. “The Bedford’s philanthropic leadership spans generations, and it is deeply, deeply appreciated today.

“My mother and uncle respect the role the Family Y has long played in our community,” said Libby McKinney Tritschler. “With the capital campaign for our new Y at such a critical ‘go/no-go’ juncture, both of them knew it was time to step forward to help make sure that the wonderful charitable institution my great-great-grandfather founded nearly a century ago will continue to serve our community today and on through future generations.”

With the recent gifts from the Bedford descendants, as well as additional significant new contributions from other donors, the Family Y has now raised more than $9 million in cash and multi-year pledges. In all, the Family Y has identified $32.5 million in funding, including proceeds from the agreed-upon sale of its current home, built by Mr. Bedford and expanded over time. Current estimates for the total cost of the first Phase of the new Y are approximately $36 million; Family Y campaign leaders are endeavoring to secure nearly 100 percent of the funds needed prior to the start of construction.

Provided that sufficient funding is in place, construction will begin this fall on Phase I of our new Family Y, starting with a 55,000 sq. ft. facility that will include a lap pool and family/teaching pool; expansive Wellness Center; multi-purpose Gymnasium; three large group-fitness studios; a Child Watch/Kids’ Adventure Gym area; five locker rooms; and other amenities of a modern, family-oriented Y facility.

“As more dollars are given, we’ll be able to expand our new Family Y and add the rest of the features envisioned in the original design for our Mahackeno campus,” said Bonnie Strittmatter, President of the Family Y’s volunteer Board of Directors. “We’re all hopeful that the Bedford family will continue to support the Family Y, and that they’ll be joined by other community leaders who wish to leave a lasting legacy – a new home that will allow us to continue to fulfill our historic mission as a center of community life and shared values.”

For information about the “Building What Matters” capital campaign, visit www.westporty.org.  To discuss making a financial contribution, please contact Rob Reeves at 203-226-8981, ext. 131 or rreeves@westporty.org.