Hartford Seminary recently became the beneficiary of a remarkable trust distribution that adds $5,499,830 to endowed funds supporting the institution.
For decades, the Seminary has received income from the trust established by Charles Guilford Woodward, who was a Trustee of the Hartford Seminary Foundation in the 1940s. Upon Woodward’s death in 1950, his sister inherited the vast majority of his holdings, which then passed on to her children. In 2017, the last of Woodward’s grandnieces died, triggering a distribution of the trust itself to a number of institutions he supported, including Hartford Seminary.
Ted See, a Hartford Seminary Trustee and Chair of the Finance Committee, said Woodward’s generosity cannot be overstated. “His magnanimous foresight has resulted in a significant boost to Hartford Seminary’s finances at an opportune time.”
Late in the 19th century, Woodward attended Trinity College, where he ran on the track team and studied economics and sociology, graduating in 1898 and later serving as a Trinity Trustee. He worked for Connecticut General Life Insurance Co. and supported a wide variety of organizations in the Greater Hartford area.
Letters preserved in Hartford Seminary’s archives show that Woodward was asked to join the Seminary’s Board of Trustees in 1941 to fill a vacancy. In 1942, he was elected to a full term and appointed to the board’s Finance Committee. A letter from then-President Robbins Wolcott Barstow dated Nov. 3, 1941, just a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor, shows the high esteem in which Woodward was held.
President Barstow wrote: “It has long been my personal desire that you might be associated with us in this tremendously significant venture of trying to train the best possible leadership for the world-wide work of the churches in these crucial days.”
In a Nov. 7, 1941, handwritten letter (displayed below) from Woodward back to President Barstow, Woodward expressed his great admiration for the Seminary’s work. “It is a great privilege to be associated with a group that has made such a distinct contribution to both the spiritual uplift and intellectual life of the world. In these times that seem so out of joint we are more deeply conscious than usual of the value of the benefits that the Seminary is conferring upon mankind.”
Though Hartford Seminary does not control the endowed monies, the Seminary will benefit in perpetuity from Woodward’s gift at an interest rate set each year by the trust.
President Joel N. Lohr said of the bequest: “The importance of this gift is only beginning to be realized, and I could not be more grateful for the immense generosity of people like Charles Woodward. As Woodward knew more than a generation ago, Hartford Seminary has a unique, global mission, one that has the power to bless and uplift all humankind. Hartford Seminary will do everything it can to honor the powerful vision of our generous donor.”