Cultivating a family legacy is not that different from tending a garden: land with poor prospects, at first glance, has to be coaxed over time –patiently and carefully–until it has a fertile life of its own. Case in point: The Morris family of Pennsylvania, which nursed its garden into an arboretum, an estate that lives on even after the family mansion, the iron-manufacturing company that supplied its fortune, and the line of direct descendants have all disappeared.
A "Legacy" can be hard to define with any certainty. What does a legacy mean to you?
There are those monuments, those legends, and those gifts about which there is no question. Whether it is in the name of a particular family or a community, it is unquestionably a legacy. So it is with a garden created roughly a century ago by members of the Morris family in Pennsylvania.
For those with high ambitions to leave a legacy, consider a recent meditation in the form of a Barron's Penta article titled “A Lesson in Family Legacy.” It is the story of that Morris family garden.
The garden is no patch of soil, either at its start or in the present day. No, it is the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, a famous landmark still giving to the public and the University. However, it was not always that way, nor was it as pretty as the article describes. In fact, the Morris family of
Pennsylvania, namely siblings John and Lydia Morris, raised the garden from the soil and left their name in place long after their own passing or the passing of their house through the form of an endowment.
While not every garden can be a monument, or every gift a legacy, it does require a unique perspective when it comes to coordinating your assets, goals and values.
What will be your legacy?
Reference: Barron's Penta (October 4, 2013) “A Lesson in Family Legacy”