Catherine Roddick's Legacy

Catherine Roddick's Legacy: The Gift she Bestowed upon United Way of Lake County through Planned Giving 


Catherine Roddick was often seen throughout the streets of Painesville, wearing a floppy hat and pushing a shopping cart filled with odds and ends. She was known to some as a “bag lady” and could frequently be found rummaging through piles of used clothing.

Few have guessed the woman walking down Main Street was a millionaire – and had plans to leverage that fortune to benefit the community for generations to come.

Catherine was born December 3, 1894 to a prominent Painesville family. She was a reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and other newspapers and worked for the Naval Department until her retirement in 1950.  

Catherine’s frugality was matched with her keen investment skills. When she passed away in 1987, her estate – which included stocks in 63 major companies – was valued at $2 million.

Catherine wanted to ensure that the wealth she amassed would have a lasting impact. In her will, she left it to causes in the community for which she was passionate. One of those causes: the work of United Way of Lake County. We were in need of a new home at the time and Catherine had set aside funds for an office to be built. But she had one stipulation: the office must include a space that could also be used as a community meeting area for local organizations.

The building we reside in today was constructed with Catherine’s gift. The central conference room – which can be divided into two meeting spaces – is filled almost daily with community gatherings. A plaque hangs inside our office honoring Catherine’s legacy and her contribution to the community.



Planning for an impact. Planned gifts come in many forms. What each type has in common is it allows givers to build an enduring legacy, and planned gifts to UWLC support our mission in a lasting way. Interested in making a planned gift to UWLC or in learning more about planned gift options? Click here for details.