Woman left cats, entire estate to SPCA of the Triad
Kathy Sterling and Tabatha Godwin want people who love cats, dogs, antiques, collectibles, second-hand goods, furniture and bargains to know about the estate sale the SPCA of the Triad is holding in Winston-Salem this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“This weekend looks like a good time to check out some cool stuff and help some animals,” Godwin told YES! Weekly.
Sterling is the vice president of the SPCA of the Triad, and Godwin is her assistant. Both are very grateful to the late Winston-Salem resident who recently willed everything she owned to their organization (Sterling asked YES! to not to print the deceased’s name in order to protect the privacy of her family).
“We are, of course, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit,” Sterling said, “and the only no-kill shelter in the Triad area. That is exactly why she chose us as the beneficiary of her estate because she had three cats that she wanted to be sure were placed in loving homes. When her brother, who was her executor, reached out to us, we went over and picked up her cats and have gotten them all homes.”
Sterling said that their benefactor gave the SPCA of the Triad more than her house and the custody of her beloved feline companions.
“She was nice enough to give us not just her home, but everything inside it, basically her entire estate, which is wonderful. We are actually in a fundraising campaign right now. We own 11 acres that we’ve purchased this past year, and we are trying to build a new shelter. So, for us, this is just really game-changing, and something we would love for other people to consider doing with their estates.”
Sterling described the home as a ranch house and said she was amazed when she first saw its contents. “She was a collector of just about everything you can name, I mean it, everything! Complete sets of four different china patterns, lots of crystal, and the most unbelievable amount of costume jewelry anybody has ever seen.”
Sterling emphasized that her organization’s benefactor was no hoarder, but a discerning and careful curator who kept beautiful, interesting and often rare things in good condition. “She was really smart and knew valuable stuff when she saw it, such as the vintage hand-painted decoy duck. She really had an eye for knowing what was valuable, so we now have an enormous amount of tchotchke stuff for sale, as well as furnishings, including nine great sofas. It’s not a huge house, but she really had it appointed.”
Godwin called it “a blessing in the form of tragedy.”
The only condition was that the SPCA find forever-homes for Bitty, Sammy and Baby. Godwin described the cats as being of different ages and personalities but said that all three were sweet and beautiful and that all are all now homed and happy, living with people who love them.
“Bitty, a beautiful long-haired cat, was only about 2 and extremely outgoing. Sammy, the tuxedo cat, is about 5 and needed to warm up to you. Then there was Baby, an older tabby, who did not like being in our center at all! She had an issue with her teeth, and we had to have some medical treatment done for her, but she’s fine now.”
All proceeds from the estate sale will go toward the Capital Campaign for the facility.
“The current shelter is in such disrepair,” Godwin said, “and only able to hold up to 60 animals— 30 cats and 30 dogs—so it is imperative for our community to have a new and larger no-kill shelter. The SPCA has been able to purchase 11 acres of land very close to their current location. So, with this estate and sale, they are hoping to get the building started in 2020.”
Sterling and Godwin both said that they hope this sets an example for others in the Triad, who may be wondering what to do with their pets, homes and property when they pass on. “By leaving their estate to the SPCA,” Godwin said, “they are providing medical care, forever homes and refuge to homeless animals in our community.” Sterling emphasized that the SPCA accepts all donations and will be glad to help anyone who would like to speak with someone about how they can help the animals.
The Estate Sale is located at 4025 Yarborough Ave. in Winston-Salem and will start Thursday, Jan. 9, and run through Jan. 11. The hours are 1-6 p.m. on Thursday and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Ian McDowell is the author of two published novels, numerous anthologized short stories, and a whole lot of nonfiction and journalism, some of which he’s proud of and none of which he’s ashamed of.