Myra Gabbert loved hearing about the mission work being done by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and her legacy makes sure that witness continues today.
When Mrs. Gabbert died in 1987 at the age of 97, she bequeathed half of her estate – including Illinois farmland and the residual of 13 charitable gift annuities – to a permanent fund at the Christian Church Foundation. Annual distributions from that fund provide vital dollars to Disciples Mission Fund, supporting the general and regional witnesses of the church – including overseas ministries. The Mont Robertson and Myra Love Gabbert Permanent Fund, started with about $800,000, has grown to more than $1 million, and has distributed another $1 million to Disciples Mission Fund throughout the years.
Rev. Victor McAnallen of Hendersonville, NC, first met Mrs. Gabbert in 1957 when she and 16 other Pennsylvanian Disciples visited the McAnallens, who were serving as Disciples missionaries in Thailand. They quickly learned of each other’s Pennsylvanian connections – the McAnallens were from Butler, PA, and Mrs. Gabbert from Pittsburgh – and began an enduring friendship.
Mrs. Gabbert’s husband, Mont, a religion professor at the University of Pittsburgh, had died in 1957, and an adopted daughter had died at age 12 following an illness. She had attended East Liberty Christian Church in Pittsburgh.
Rev. McAnallen and his wife, Marian, would visit Mrs. Gabbert during their furloughs from Thailand, and regularly corresponded while on assignment. Their friendship became so strong that in the early 1970s Mrs. Gabbert asked the McAnallens if they would let her be their children’s adopted grandmother. They agreed, and when the McAnallens adopted a child while in Thailand, they gave him the name Mark Gabbert McAnallen in honor of Mrs. Gabbert. Today, Mrs. Gabbert’s picture sits among the family photos in the McAnallen home.
“Myra always remembered the family at Christmas, and was generous to our family throughout the years,” Rev. McAnallen recalled. “We shall always remember her deep Christian commitment and love for the church and her love of our family.”
Mrs. Gabbert’s commitment and love for the church continues in perpetuity because she included the church in her estate plans. To learn more about how to include the church in your estate plan, call the Christian Church Foundation at (800) 668-8016.