A retired employment counselor for the state Labor Department left $2 million to the University at Buffalo School of Nursing, UB officials announced Wednesday.
The bequest from the estate of 1922 UB graduate Nova Gursslin Petsan of Niagara Falls is not only the largest gift to the nursing school but also one of the largest from an individual in the university's 151-year history.
It will be used, at the late Mrs. Petsan's request, to fund undergraduate and graduate scholarships.
"These scholarships will give the school a competitive edge in recruiting the best and brightest students to attend UB," said Mecca S. Cranley, dean of the nursing school.
The bequest will be distributed through the Nova G. Petsan and Gustave Petsan Scholarship Fund at the school. Gustave Petsan, Mrs. Petsan's husband, was a chef at Niagara University and the Niagara Club in Niagara Falls before his death in the late 1970s.
"I handled her husband's estate and, at the time, she and her husband probably had, between them, a half million dollars," said Mrs. Petsan's attorney, William D. Broderick Sr. of Niagara Falls.
"They were able to acquire that because they worked all their lives, had no children and invested in stocks on a regular basis."
Mrs. Petsan, who was 95 when she died in March, lived modestly in retirement, Broderick said. "She owned some stocks and bonds that, over the years, rolled over and the interest accumulated."
Mrs. Petsan was a longtime supporter of the UB School of Nursing. Early on, she and her husband established the Gustave and Nova Petsan Fund for scholarships for nursing students.
Mrs. Petsan donated almost $250,000 to the fund over the years -- an amount that brings her total giving to UB to nearly $2.25 million.
She taught French and Latin at Niagara Falls High School from 1928 to 1942 and was an employment counselor for the state labor department from 1943 to 1970.
UB also announced Wednesday a $200,000 gift to the nursing school from Shirley D. DeVoe of Buffalo, who earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from UB, in 1942 and 1956, respectively, and worked as a nurse for 35 years before retiring in 1975.
Her gift will establish the Shirley D. DeVoe Nursing Research Support Fund to assist nursing faculty members and graduate students at the nursing school.
Miss DeVoe, 79, noted that she attended UB's nursing school on a scholarship.
Ms. Cranley said the DeVoe gift "will provide the opportunity for faculty and students to conduct pilot research and small studies in the field."