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Blessed to be a blessing

One couple’s legacy benefits the children of St. Jude

Esther and Norman “Chad” Chadwick were never blessed with children of their own, but the late couple continues to bless children around the world through their legacy to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Esther’s decision to leave a portion of their estate to St. Jude has generated more than $7 million for brain tumor research, the neuro-oncology clinic and the Child Life program. Esther, who died in July 2007, was preceded in death by her husband approximately 20 years earlier.

“One of the amazing things about her gift is that she made it without ever seeing the hospital and without having a personal connection—no family member had cancer as a child,” says Marisa Intile, Esther’s niece. “But she read extensively, and she knew St. Jude was a wonderful charity.”

As co-executor of the Chadwick’s estate, Intile toured the hospital her aunt was never able to visit.

“Seeing the children’s faces, the size and extent of the hospital and the cheerfulness of the hospital is life changing,” Intile says. “You can actually see the hope—it’s clear the patients feel it, the families feel it, and the staff is devoted to it.”

Because Intile and co-executor Ida Tufo had both lost family members to brain cancer, they decided that the largest portion of the Chadwicks’ gift would support brain tumor research and care. Intile’s father passed away 32 years ago, and Tufo lost a son five years ago. The co-executors also earmarked $1 million of the estate to serve as a matching gift challenge for St. Jude donors.

Although the Chadwicks’ gift was remarkable, the couple came from humble beginnings. One of seven children born to Italian immigrants, Esther followed her dream of a career in New York and became an executive assistant for Avon Products Inc. There she met Chad, who had begun working in the company’s mail room at age 15. He attended night school; after a stint in the military, he worked his way up to become executive vice president of Avon’s sales and marketing.

“Uncle Chad was very smart, but he was always interested in others and made everyone feel at ease,” Intile recalls. “Aunt Esther was a beautiful, meticulous, well-read woman who loved to travel with Uncle Chad.”

Esther’s many interests in later life included the children of St. Jude. “She would often say, ‘I got a letter from Marlo’ and would tell us about it. And when she received a video about St. Jude, she would pass it around the family,” Intile says.

“I would love to be able to sit down and tell Aunt Esther what I saw at St. Jude,” Intile continues. “Everything there is made possible because so many give out of the goodness of their hearts. I came away with a renewed belief in the genuine goodness of people and what they can achieve.”

To learn more about making a legacy gift to St. Jude, call (800) 395-1087 or e-mail


Reprinted from Promise Summer 2009
September 2009