Planned Giving

Donor Stories

A Living Legacy

Photo of John Dillingham and Joan Grasty
Hildegarde Howard Society founding members Joan Grasty and husband John Dillingham

The Natural History Museum recently inaugurated the Hildegarde Howard Society, a group of benefactors who have made planned gifts to the Museum. One of the Society’s founding members is Joan Grasty, who has been a tireless advocate for the Museum since she began her career here in 1965 as a student professional worker tour guide. Joan’s dedication and vision soon led her to full-time employment in the Museum’s Education Department, and she served as school tours coordinator and volunteer coordinator before becoming chief of education in 1984. Under Joan’s leadership, the Museum’s education programs blossomed. Recognizing the need to reach out to children and adults in the community who were unable to visit the Museum, she developed several mobile education programs, including the Traveling Insect Zoo (1990) and the Earthmobile (winner of the AAM’s Exhibit of the Year in 1992) and the Seamobile (1995), both supported by the Maxwell H. Gluck Foundation. Joan also designed two versions of the Ralph M. Parsons Discovery Center and contributed to many Museum exhibits, including Cats! Mild to Wild.

Since retiring from the Museum in 1997, Joan has continued to be an integral part of the Museum family. As chair of the Alliance Fellows Committee, her creativity and expertise have been instrumental in the planning of many successful Fellows events. “In the 39 years I’ve been associated with the Museum,” she says, “I have watched its programs and audience grow and diversify, reflecting the city it serves. I am proud to have had a role in that growth and happy that I will be able to contribute to the Museum’s progress in the future.”

Joan is also active in the community of Camarillo, where she lives with her husband John Dillingham. There, she serves on the Board of Managers and Capital Campaign Committee for the Camarillo Family YMCA and was named Volunteer of the Year in 2004. The couple spends summers at their home in picturesque Gold Beach, Oregon.

Twila Bratcher, Mrs. George Caldwell, Richard and Eileen Garson, Kenneth and Elaine Leventhal, Paquita Machris, Mrs. Ester Osder, Jean Albertson Peck, Mrs. Kay Robertson, Dr. and Mrs. James S. Royer, Dr. Jerome S. and Judith D. Tamkin, and Mrs. Walter Tauer: All are founding members of the Hildegarde Howard Society who have made planned gifts to the Museum. Joan Grasty joins this group by generously providing for the Education Department of the Natural History Museum in her will.


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