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Will seeks to care for animals

Posted: Tuesday, January 30, 2001

MOBILE, Ala. -- Eliza-beth Quinlan Buzzi had a reputation for being stern and strong-willed, except when it came to Peaches, her cat.

When Buzzi died last June at age 89, Peaches went to live with a good friend, and Buzzi tried to make sure that other animals throughout Mobile get proper care, too.

She bequeathed almost all of her estate -- possibly well in excess of $500,000, which is the value of her home and furnishings alone -- to a trust fund designed to protect port city animals.

The net income from the trust will be shared by the Mobile Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the local Humane Society.

A former medical librarian who three times was left a widow, Buzzi had no remaining relatives, according to her will, which was signed in 1992 and filed in Mobile County Probate Court.

An auction of the antiques and other furnishings from her two-story mansion on picturesque Washington Square park drew attention to her death. The auction raised more than $100,000, according to the auction house, and the seven-bedroom home remains for sale at $440,000, with the animals standing most to gain.

After a few financial gifts to friends, Buzzi, formerly of Wichita, Kan., directed that the remainder of her estate go into the animal trust that will bear her name.

Buzzi specified that only animals in the Mobile metro area benefit from the inheritance and that none of the money be spent on medical research that involves animals.

SPCA president Joan Richardson heard about the trust fund around the time of the auction of the contents of the Buzzi home. She didn't know Buzzi.

''We haven't been officially notified,'' she said. ''We're just very grateful that we're going to be part of it. We're going to preserve and protect the money that's been given to us and respect what she wanted.''

She said the SPCA's last large gift, $150,000 from the Glaze estate, came in 1992.

The city's animal shelter, which processes about 12,000 animals a year, was not included in the trust. Director William Fassbender said the shelter's staff conducts fund-raisers and accepts donations to pay for spaying and neutering of pets.

Buzzi's attorney Greg Watts and banker Tom Roberts, handling the trust, declined to discuss the trust fund. Until the house is sold, the total amount of money available to the animals won't be known and may never be publicly disclosed because of bank confidentiality laws.

Buzzi specified that the money could be spent on spaying and neutering programs for dogs, cats and other animals. It also could be spent on the education of the public with regard to animal care, control and preservation. It also could be spent on the operation of shelters for the adoption of animals.

Ruling out any spending on medical research involving animals, Buzzi stated: ''It is my firm opinion that the use of animals for medical research constitutes the worst form of animal cruelty.''

Lois Laskay, a former Buzzi housekeeper, was not surprised about the trust fund. She said Buzzi had about seven cats when she worked for Buzzi and her late husband, Robert Buzzi.

''She loved them and loved to work in her yard,'' said Laskay.

Next-door neighbor Dottie Dunnam said Buzzi wanted the income-producing trust for animals because she felt a one-time gift would be squandered.

''She never had any children. She was kind of the end of her line,'' Dunnam said.

Buzzi's ashes were sent to Maple Grove Cemetery in Wichita, Kan., for burial. She requested no funeral.



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