Honoring Legacy Donors

In the words of Lee Sanders, one of amazing Legacy Donors, as to why he chose to priortize Besant Hill School of Happy Valley in his estate planning,

“I hope to inspire other alumni to give back to the school that meant so much to us, ensuring its enduring presence for future generations of students.”

Besant Hill School of Happy Valley would like to pay tribute to our “Legacy Donors.” These very special individuals cherished their time and experience at Happy Valley School and recognized how exceptional and unique it was and still is today as a school that has dedicated itself to providing an educational experience by creating a community and programming that can not be delivered by larger schools. Besant Hill impacts a person’s growth to the extent it is carried with them throughout their lives. The individuals honored below supported the institution they loved and wanted to ensure future generations have the same educational opportunities for decades to come. Their generosity provided the means for essential campus improvements and the creation of a Scholarship Endowment Fund to provide financial aid to students that would otherwise never have the opportunity to experience Besant Hill School of Happy Valley. As you engage in your own estate planning, we hope you will consider giving back to the school that changed your life.

Marion Weil

Marion Weil (HVS’60) was unparalleled in her dedication and profound affection for Besant Hill School of Happy Valley. For the last decade of her life, she selflessly served the students and alumni with remarkable zeal. Marion stood out as the foremost contributor, generously devoting countless hours as the Alumni Liaison and contributing millions of dollars in financial resources to the school she loved.

Her tireless efforts revolved around rekindling connections among alumni and fostering greater opportunities for students. With an unyielding commitment to Annie Besant’s vision for our community, Marion championed this cause by delivering captivating speeches to students as part of our esteemed Distinguished Speaker Series, despite her own fear of public speaking—a personal milestone she referred to as her “Aún Aprendo moment.”

Lee Sanders

Lee graduated from Happy Valley School in 1960. He pursued a career as a film projectionist and was featured in a short documentary film called “Man in the Booth” which provides a personal glimpse into the lives of Motion Picture projectionists. Lee’s love for film extended beyond his profession, as he generously donated a trove of 16mm footage of Happy Valley folk dance films dating back to 1950 to the school. As per his wish, these films have been digitized and preserved in the school’s historical archives.

His time at Happy Valley School was filled with happiness, and he maintained a close connection to the school throughout his life. He had a passion for literature and a deep appreciation for classical music, often attending the Bach Festival in Carmel. Thanks to Lee’s generous legacy gift, Besant Hill School was able to construct a swimming pool, which now bears his name. Lee Sanders left an indelible mark on our community, embodying both kindness and brilliance. His contributions and dedication will forever be remembered and celebrated at Besant Hill School of Happy Valley.

Helene & Joe Pollock

Joseph and Helen Pollock were devoted community leaders, providing philanthropic support for the arts, the environment, and higher education. Before moving to Santa Barbara in 1986, Joseph Pollock had a successful medical practice in Beverly Hills specializing in abdominal surgery. Helen Pollock was deeply influenced by her father, Louis Zalk, a successful businessman who co-founded Happy Valley School (now Besant Hill School). They met during their time at UCLA and became known throughout Beverly Hills, Montecito, Santa Barbara, and Ojai for their kindness, philanthropy, humor, and endless positivity. Helene’s legacy gift helped establish our endowment fund providing scholarships for students in need.

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