A Wellington woman who left millions of dollars to the SPCA in her will was honoured today when a new $4million animal centre was renamed after her.
Lawyer Margaret Doucas was a lifelong supporter of the animal charity she loved. The money was donated to the organisation from her estate after her sudden death last year.
A million dollars from her bequest has gone into paying off the outstanding loan borrowed to make up the shortfall of the $4m needed to build the new facility in the old Fever Hospital in Mt Victoria.
Doucas had no children and she left as much again - including money from investments and bonds - to fund ongoing operations.
"Margaret died exactly a year ago today and we thought renaming the centre the Margaret Doucas Animal Hospital was fitting," longtime friend and Wellington SPCA board chairwoman Theresa Gattung said.
"Her funeral service was even held in the building.
"Margaret was a very well-loved figure in Wellington and her generous legacy will benefit future generations of animal lovers."
Doucas was principal barrister and solicitor with Henry Hughes, Patent & Trademark Attorneys.
She was one of the first women in New Zealand to hold both science and law degrees and to be a qualified lawyer and patent attorney.
She didn't speak a word of English when she started school but she graduated from high school at the top of the class.
Her bequest to the SPCA was on top of significant financial donations made during many decades of service with the charity. She had started as a volunteer at the age of 5.
The money has also allowed the Wellington SPCA to launch the 'Home Ever After' initiative which helps in the care of animals after the owners have died.
"It is a pretty incredible legacy Margaret has left for the community," Gattung said. "Anyone who knew her knew how vibrant she was.
"She was bright, compassionate and a trailblazer in her professional life."
"Her generosity will benefit not just people in the Wellington area as our centre will be used for national events and forums. It is a fantastic building."
Gattung added that despite the large bequest, there was still a need for ongoing donations to the organisation.