When Thomas Ladue McGinty died in 1986, he left behind his 60-year-old beach home in Ocean Ridge, $1 million, and three million shells.
Although he was well known by experts in the field as an amateur naturalist and malacologist, it was not until after his death that the extent of his knowledge of mollusks and the enormity of his collection was revealed.
Tom and his brother Paul (who died just eight months before Tom) moved to Florida in the 1940s. Tom was appointed Chief of Police of Ocean Ridge in 1949, and worked his entire lifetime to collect and label shells and fossils from around Florida waters.
A portion of his estate established a field of interest fund at the Community Foundation to support environmental needs, organizations or projects that conserve the natural resources in and around Palm Beach County. The fund was established with $81,000 in 1988 and has grown to over $250,000 in assets today. More importantly, Tom’s fund has awarded more than $250,000 in grants over the last 25 years – giving away over two times its original value and demonstrating the power of endowment.