Woman, 81, leaves church camp $2.5 million from her estate - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Woman, 81, leaves church camp $2.5 million from her estate

This is the house in Avondale where Bette Wilson lived until her death in 2012. Source: Alan Collins/WBRC This is the house in Avondale where Bette Wilson lived until her death in 2012. Source: Alan Collins/WBRC
The Living River Camp is a 440 acre, $20 million project along the Cahaba River in Shelby and Bibb counties. Source: WBRC video The Living River Camp is a 440 acre, $20 million project along the Cahaba River in Shelby and Bibb counties. Source: WBRC video
Wilson told the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley she was leaving them something in her will for the camp, but they had no idea how much her estate was worth. Source: WBRC video Wilson told the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley she was leaving them something in her will for the camp, but they had no idea how much her estate was worth. Source: WBRC video
SHELBY COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -

A woman's surprise donation of $2.5 million will help fund a Presbyterian camp in Shelby County.

Bette Wilson lived in a modest two-bedroom house in Avondale until she died at age 81 in November 2012. She attended the Avondale Presbyterian Church until it disbanded.

Three years ago, Wilson walked into the offices of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley where she announced she was leaving the organization something in her will.

"We didn't know what she had. We asked around and were told she went to Avondale. We were told there was not much there," Benga Harrison, the Development Director of Living River Camp, said.

After Wilson's death, attorneys contacted the Presbytery to say Wilson's estate was worth an estimated $2.8 million dollars. Wilson left $2.5 million to go the proposed camp.

"It was like winning the lottery. It blew me away. We didn't see it coming, but it was a game changer for Living River," the Rev. Robert Hay said.

The money will be used to help fund the completion of the Living River Camp, a 440 acre, $20 million project along the Cahaba River in Montevallo near the Shelby/Bibb county line. The camp is called a place for spiritual renewal and enjoying the environment.

"It will be an environmental camp and the first job God gave us was to be good stewards of the earth," Hay said.

In return for all of her generosity, all Mrs. Wilson asked for was a plaque in recognition of herself, her husband and her parents, somthing folks at the Presbytery were more than willing to do.

Tune in at 6 p.m. for Alan Collins' full report on this story.

More information about Living River Camp is available online at www.livingriver.org.

Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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