November 11, 2011

Historic estate gift announced at Catholic Community Foundation meeting

By Sean Gallagher

James P. ScottA historic estate gift to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis was announced during the annual meeting of the board of directors of the Catholic Community Foundation (CCF) at the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis. (Related: Retired archbishop’s legacy of stewardship praised at meeting)

Donald Horan, a member of St. Mary Parish in Greensburg and president of the CCF board, told meeting attendees on Nov. 2 that land given to the archdiocese was recently sold for $7.5 million.

This estate gift—the largest in archdiocesan history—was made possible through the generosity of James P. Scott, who died in 1979 while a member of St. Joan of Arc Parish in Indianapolis.

A successful businessman involved in Indianapolis politics, Scott established a trust in the 1970s to ensure care for his disabled son, John Scott, after he died.

After John Scott died in 2009, the assets of the trust were dispersed to several organizations as directed in James Scott’s will. The Archdiocese of Indianapolis was notified that it was one of the designees in early 2010. It took nearly 18 months to work through the process of settling the estate and selling the land at auction.

When the archdiocese was informed of the unrestricted gift, Archbishop Emeritus Daniel M. Buechlein directed that at least $5 million of the gift be used to create the James P. Scott Endowment. Funds distributed from it annually—totaling approximately $250,000—will support capital projects in parishes, schools and agencies throughout central and southern Indiana.

“James P. Scott has created a legacy that will have an effect on our parishes and schools, and the people of the archdiocese for generations to come,” Horan said.

The remaining funds will be used to address pressing needs in the archdiocese.

Aside from affirming the historic nature of this large estate gift, David Milroy, executive director of stewardship and development for the archdiocese, thinks that James Scott’s example is a great one to learn from.

“If you want to talk about stewardship as a way of life, it’s really tough to come up with a better case example than [his],” Milroy said.

Scott was born in Indianapolis in 1893. As a boy, he delivered newspapers. After graduating from Arsenal Technical High School, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War I.

After the war, Scott returned to Indianapolis and used the knowledge of logistics that he gained in the Navy to start a trucking company from scratch, delivering copies of the former Indianapolis News to substations around the city.

Scott’s business grew, and he eventually branched out into real estate, buying farmland on the outskirts of Indianapolis.

Although Scott died more than 30 years ago, the stewardship that he lived will now benefit the ministries of parishes and schools across central and southern Indiana for decades to come.

“Most of those people [in those parishes and schools] will have no idea who Mr. Scott was,” Milroy said. “But he’s going to fix a roof here or a parking lot there or help with a recreation center here.”

After he died, those charged to care for the trust that Scott established for his son invested its assets well, and they continued to grow it considerably over the past 30 years, Milroy said.

For Ellen Brunner, archdiocesan director of planned giving, that is a clear example of how even small gifts can reap significant benefits over time.

“Planned giving is something that everyone can do—whether it’s a small gift or a $7.5 million gift,” Brunner said. “This is an example of someone who grew their assets over time. There was also some good decision making on behalf of those involved in managing the assets [after Scott died].”

(To learn more about planned giving opportunities that would assist the ministries of parishes, schools and agencies across central and southern Indiana, call Ellen Brunner at 317-236-1427 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1427, send an e-mail to or log on to

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