06/06/08 — Couple leave $1.2 million to colleges, church, YMCA

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Couple leave $1.2 million to colleges, church, YMCA

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 6, 2008 1:46 PM

Frank and Celeste Deans are remembered by family and friends as a caring and giving couple who led a simple life. However, while living that simple life, the Deanses were able to save their money and turn it into a sizable estate that will perpetuate their generosity.

During a ceremony this morning, retired Goldsboro attorney Lindsay Warren, a longtime friend of the Deanses, presented four checks each in the amount of $311,000 to four local organizations -- the Wayne Community College Foundation, the Goldsboro YMCA, St. Paul's United Methodist Church, where the Deanses were members, and to the Medical School Foundation at East Carolina University (ECU) at Greenville.

It isn't the first time that the four organizations have benefited from the Deanses' generosity. In 2007, each received $100,000 from the Deanses' estate.

The donation to the Wayne Community College Foundation will fund scholarships for Wayne County students. ECU's share is to be used for medical research.

The portion going to the YMCA was to have been used to pay any debts.

"I have been told there is no debt so the (YMCA) board will decide its use," Warren said.

St. Paul's United Methodist Church will invest its share and use it to help people in need.

"That is what the Deans had done all of their lives. They were that kind of people," Warren said.

The Deans had no children and they wanted to recognize efforts made by a number of charitable organizations, Warren said.

Several organizations in Goldsboro, such as the Salvation Army, Wayne County Public Library and soup kitchen, received "minor gifts" ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

Once the estate debts were settled, the remainder of the estate was divided equally among the four major beneficiaries.

"I made a distribution of $100,000 (to each of the four) in 2007," Warren said.

However, the rest was delayed because of paperwork and tax returns issues that had to be resolved.

"Today, I will deliver to each representative of each beneficiary checks for $311,000 for a total of $411,000," he said.

The Deans were lifetime residents of Wayne County. Their home was located on Tommy's Road.

"It is a lovely spot near what is known as Deans Cemetery," Warren said. "It sits up high above the road."

Deans died six years and Mrs. Deans died in October 2006.

Warren was not only their attorney, but a family friend as well. He drafted their wills in which each made the other their executor.

"These were some of the finest, most generous people that I have ever known in my lifetime," Warren said. "They were always trying to give you something. If you went out to their house, they wanted you to take back food."

Deans worked as manager at the old Wayne Wholesale Co., a wholesale grocery company. Mrs. Deans worked at O'Berry and Lewis Inc., a Goldsboro insurance company.

"Many people knew them and that they led a conservative life," Warren said. "They saved their money and invested wisely. After Frank died, Celeste sold the property they lived on, about 15 acres, but retained a lifetime estate.

"They were frugal in their living habits. They were devoted to each other and just lived a relatively simple life. But they were always helping people. Their will reflects the kind of people they are by leaving it to charitable organizations to help others on a continuous basis."

Warren said he had known the Deans for many years. He met Mrs. Dean when he first moved to Goldsboro in 1951 to join a law practice.

"I saw a lot of her in her later years as her health declined and helped to make sure she had proper care and attention and that her property was taken care of," he said.

"I had been their attorney for many years back when I was practicing law, and I had wrote their wills and made each other their executors," Warren said.

There was a provision that allowed an alternative executor to be named.

"She had asked me if I would serve, and I promised her that I would," Warren said. "I told her I could find plenty of people to do it, but she said 'no I want you to do it.' I told her I would do this even though I had stopped practicing law. So, I have done so, and I will end my duties today.

"I think people would be surprised how well their account investments did. It did well for them and enabled them to live without any financial worries even though it was very simple. They have lot of friends, lot of people in this community who will remember them."