The Colchester East Hants Hospice Society celebrated the grand opening of a new building on Wednesday with help from two generous Nova Scotia women — one whose family lost their assets to the Nazis in the Second World War.
The society bought the new building in Truro, where a ribbon cutting was held on Wednesday, with help from the late Joanne Venner, who bequeathed her home to the hospice society in 2010. Venner's house was sold by the society.
"With that money we were actually able to buy this house and turn it into our facility today," said Janet Whelan, the executive director of the Colchester East Hants Hospice Society.
The hospice society got another big donation two years ago. That's when 107-year-old Nelly Traxler left half of her estate — totalling $2 million — to the society in honour of her mother, Frau Marta Bumova.
Traxler won $6 million in a settlement with the German government 50 years after her family was forced out of the country during the Second World War. The Nazis also confiscated the family's two textile factories, their mansion and all their assets.
Traxler was living in Switzerland in 1938 when the Nazis stormed her family's properties. She returned to Germany to get her mother and brother and bring them to Canada.
Her mother stayed in Montreal where she later died. She and Traxler's brother, Bill Boome, never lived to get their parts of the settlement.
Boome moved to Truro where he took up the family business in the textile industry and Traxler moved to the town upon his death.
Traxler's lawyer, 96-year-old Lorne MacDougall, helped divide her fortune after her death.
"She insisted that I'll have the power of appointment anyhow, and so I did that," he said.
He said Traxler left it up to him to decide how her estate is divided. MacDougall decided $2 million of Traxler's estate should go to the hospice society in Truro and another $2 million to the Mother Teresa Foundation.
Both donations are in memory of Traxler's mother, Frau Marta Bumova.
"I did it that way because I thought it would please her and please her mother," said MacDougall. He said both Traxler and Boome thought their mother walked on water.
The Colchester East Hants Hospice Society plans to use the rest of Traxler's donation to educate more people about palliative care and the services available in Colchester County.
Hospices support families facing illness, death or grieving the loss of a loved one.