Paying Tribute to Texas Children's First Benefactors

J.S. and Lillie Abercrombie Society

Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Abercrombie and Leopold Meyer

Mr. and Mrs. J. S. Abercrombie and Leopold Meyer

In 1994, Texas Children’s Hospital established the J. S. and Lillie Abercrombie Society to honor its first major benefactors, whose kindness and foresight helped create Texas Children’s. Today, through the Abercrombie Society, Texas Children’s recognizes and pays tribute to people who have included the hospital in their estate plans.

Throughout their lives, James Smither and Lillie Abercrombie gave generously to important causes in Houston. In 1946, Leopold L. Meyer approached Jim Abercrombie, owner of Cameron Iron Works, to help raise the $2.5 million dollars needed to build a children’s hospital in Houston.

“Would this hospital be open to every sick or hurt child with no restrictions on religion, creed, color or whether or not you could pay?” Abercrombie asked.

“Absolutely,” he was told. “It’ll be written in the bylaws.”

So, he agreed to contribute $1 million of the cost and cover the hospital’s deficits for the first five years. Ground was broken in 1951, and Texas Children’s Hospital, a landmark in pediatric care, was dedicated in 1953.

Abercrombie took great satisfaction from Texas Children’s, but the financial plight of the hospital was of growing concern to him and Lillie for many years. The situation became more acute when a decision was made to expand Texas Children’s Hospital, but Abercrombie was already seeking a long-range answer to the escalating needs of the hospital and its young patients.

In late 1967, the Abercrombies made their greatest contribution when they created a trust to provide ongoing support for Texas Children’s by forming the J. S. Abercrombie Foundation.

Leopold Meyer once said, “There are many charitable people in Houston, but if there are any who have exceeded Jim and Lillie Abercrombie in kindness and gracious giving in proportion to their means, it has not been my opportunity to meet them. The Abercrombies have contributed their wealth and time to every worthy cause and have been beloved by all who have known them.”

Although not all gifts can be as generous as the Abercrombies, every gift, no matter the size, is appreciated. We encourage you to let us know if you’ve included Texas Children’s in your estate plans, either through your will, a trust, a gift annuity or life insurance policy. Abercrombie Society members are invited to an annual luncheon and tour and are recognized (if they so choose) in Developments magazine.

For more information on making a planned gift to Texas Children’s, please contact Brena Baumann-Gonzalez, JD,, at 832-824-2718, or

Some of the above information was adapted from Mr. Jim: The Biography of James Smither Abercrombie.

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A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Texas Children's Hospital a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

"I give to Texas Children's Hospital, a nonprofit corporation currently located at Houston, TX, or its successor thereto, ______________* [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose."

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Texas Children's Hospital or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays our organization set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the potential tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Texas Children's Hospital as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Texas Children's Hospital as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Texas Children's Hospital where you agree to make a gift to Texas Children's Hospital and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

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