Old First Receives Generous Bequest from John Kendall

Old First Receives Generous Bequest from John Kendall

The church recently received a bequest of $125,000 from the estate John Kendall. It was John’s wish that this gift be restricted, which in this case means that we are not allowed to use any of the capital from the bequest, but, putting the gift in our endowment, we can count on our annual budgets benefiting from the interest for years to come.

We will give thanks for John’s gift in worship on Sunday, April 10. But we thought doing John’s memory justice, we might provide a brief biographical note.

Also, his generosity is an example that challenges us: how many of us have included Old First in our wills? Curiously, it is at the end of our lives that most of us have the possibility of making a significant monetary gift to the church. And in so doing, we can strengthen and support the ministry of this church long after we are no longer around to contribute our time and talent.

So who was this man who cared enough about our church to make such a gift?

John Kendall was baptized as a child at Old First Reformed Church at 50th and Locust Streets and was raised by his mother and several aunts. A graduate of West Philadelphia H.S., John served in the Army for two years and then in the Air Force for four years. After his military service, John worked many jobs to pay his way through college. He especially liked driving cab in the city because he liked to talk with his riders, and he learned a lot about the city. In 1956, John graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. He worked in Prudential Insurance Company’s Real Estate Division until his retirement in the 1990’s.

John was introduced to his future wife Elizabeth, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, by Elizabeth’s grandfather. Her grandfather thought highly of John for having put himself through school, and for taking such good care of his mother and aunts. He thought John would be a good man for the out-going Elizabeth. Grandfather was right. In 1962 she and John were married, and Elizabeth joined Old First.

John, his mother and Elizabeth all faithfully attended Old First until their deaths. John served on the Official Board. Elizabeth’s service included being a church school teacher, a kitchen worker, a leader in the Women’s Guild, and President of the Official Board.

John and Elizabeth were thrifty people. They saved for everything they wanted, their home, automobile, vacations. John invested in many small companies throughout his working life. He reinvested all monies earned, using Elizabeth’s income for household needs. Both John and Elizabeth enjoyed traveling, entertaining, going to parties and sailing in Maine.

John and Elizabeth were generous and gave to many charities. They especially were grateful for the education they received at the University of Pennsylvania and spent many hours raising money for the University and the Hospital. As well as the gift, John has given a large donation to the Hospital’s Nursing Program for the education of nurses as well as a large donation to the Congregational Church they attended in Maine and to Old First.



Michael announcing the bequest,
Jacqulin Williams providing the biographical sketch on John