Sewickley man's $37M gift to library, hospital is Pittsburgh Foundation's second largest
Two Sewickley nonprofits each will receive $500,000 annually as part of The Pittsburgh Foundation's second largest gift in its 73-year history, the foundation announced Wednesday.
Raymond Schubart Suckling, who lived for many years in the Sewickley area and died in 2014 at 93, bequeathed $37 million to The Pittsburgh Foundation. The donation from the longtime mechanical engineer at Koppers Co. will benefit the Sewickley Public Library and the Sewickley Valley Hospital Foundation, which is the fundraising arm of Heritage Valley Sewickley hospital.
The library plans to use the money to strengthen its endowment, making improvements to the building with plans to expand physical spaces for teens and for study purposes.
“We provide learning opportunities to every citizen regardless of their socio-economic background — from toddlers to teens, to Millennials to boomers,” library Director Carolyn Toth said. “Public libraries are the great equalizer. They are the starting point to a great promise to all Americans that you can do and be anything you want to be and it all starts with the value of education.”
At Heritage Valley Sewickley hospital, leaders said the gift will be used to help fast track a nursing care simulation center that will provide continued education for hospital staff, caregivers and community members, CEO Norm Mitry said.
Suckling's gift also provides The Pittsburgh Foundation with $500,000 annually to benefit low-income youths and families around the Sewickley Valley.
“Gifts of this magnitude are always very thoughtfully made,” foundation CEO Maxwell King said in a statement.
Suckling had no children and never married, according to The Pittsburgh Foundation.
To honor his parents — Raymond C. and Martha S. Suckling, he established a donor-advised fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation with an initial gift of $6,000 in 1993.
His wealth largely was the result of a substantial inheritance from his parents, according to The Pittsburgh Foundation. His father was an executive at Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co.
Over the years, Suckling contributed donations to a number of regional nonprofits, including WQED, the Cancer Caring Center and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
The family of his longtime companion Betty Hallett, who died in 2002, said they were unaware of his financial wealth, the foundation said in a release.
“I recall him saying — and I think he meant this as a teaching moment for us — that having wealth also means having the responsibility to do good works,” said Thom Hallett, a son of Suckling's longtime companion.