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Scholarship Fund Bequest Restricted to Gentiles Ruled Invalid

A bequest of a $50,000 scholarship fund which Amherst College refused to accept because beneficiaries were restricted to Protestant Gentile students had that restriction ruled invalid yesterday by the New Jersey Supreme Court in a five to one decision.

The restriction was in the will left by C. Edward McKinney, Jr., of East Orange who died in 1957. The retired school teacher left a $200,000 estate to his alma mater with instructions that the estate income be used for the scholarship fund. The will provided the fund be held in trust for “deserving American-born, Protestant, Gentile boys of good moral repute.”

When the college rejected the bequest, the Howard Savings Institution of Newark, executor of the will, and three relatives filed court request that the gift should go either to another college or revert to surviving heirs. They argued that the bequest was not a charitable trust because few Amherst students could meet the requirements.

Justice Hadyn Proctor, who wrote the majority opinion, held that the donor’s interest in Amherst College was greater than his interest in religion because he was an active alumnus but did not go to church. He ruled the will would be carried out by elimination of the restrictive clause.

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