Over a period of 12 years, hundreds of dollars a month came in regularly from Gary and Shirley Ardizzone to speed the evangelistic outreach of AWR. When they both died, a six-figure final gift arrived from their trust. I felt I had to learn the life story of this dedicated couple, so on a recent trip I met their niece, Renee Valle, who shared with me the journey of this wonderful couple.
Shirley had begun her professional career in an entry-level position at Glendale Federal Savings & Loan in Southern California, while attending night school. She was promoted many times over the years and worked her way up to be the executive overseeing GFS&L’s whole escrow department. She ended up having the honor of being the first female corporate vice president at GFS&L. Meanwhile, Gary was in the process of finishing law school at San Fernando College of Law, where he also attended night school. Along with his private law practice and presiding as a judge, Gary served on the board of the Adventist Health System.
Both deeply spiritual, it was not surprising that they met at a Seventh-day Adventist church. As a couple, they shared and delighted in the gift of hospitality; they loved to entertain and were socially very active. Often fellow church members or extended family members (Shirley had five sisters and two brothers) found themselves relaxing in the Ardizzone home. Since Gary was an only child and had a small extended family, he initially was a little overwhelmed with Shirley’s large family. But everyone loved him, and he soon became a major part of the hilarity and fun that took place whenever family gathered together.
Everyone agreed that Shirley was a gourmet cook. The most delightful ingredient in any of her meals was the “secret” ingredient of love. For his part, Gary enjoyed infusing humor into a conversation. Surviving family members describe Shirley and Gary as the hub of the family and admit it's been a great loss and empty space now that they are gone.
Always generous with monthly gifts to Adventist World Radio, they also made AWR a major beneficiary in their Christian estate plan. In their revocable living trust, they left bequests to Shirley’s living siblings (two sisters and one brother), and Gary’s cousin, but the bulk of their estate was divided equally between ADRA and AWR – more than half a million dollars for each charity.
In so doing, they moved assets to heaven. They were following the command of Jesus in Matthew 6:20: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (KJV). How delighted they will be at the great banquet table in heaven to meet thousands of souls from the farthest corners of the world who were won to Christ through the radio broadcasts they sponsored into countries where missionaries cannot go.
You too can remember God’s work at AWR through your last will and testament or revocable living trust. We would be honored to assist you with Christian estate planning. One of our field representatives can work with your estate planning attorney to coordinate your plan. Just call 800-337-4297 or visit plannedgiving.awr.org today.
By Jeff Wilson
Assistant to the President for Planned Giving