FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday August 16, 2012
Contact: Patricia M. Chivers
Margaret Mitchell Heir Leaves Estate To Archdiocese of Atlanta
Atlanta – The Archdiocese of Atlanta has received a substantial gift from the estate of Margaret Mitchell’s nephew, Joseph, including a 50 percent share of the trademark and literary rights to “Gone With the Wind.”
The estate of Joseph Mitchell included a multi-million dollar bequest to the archdiocese and the donation of his home on Habersham Road in Atlanta. One of two sons of Margaret Mitchell’s brother, Stephens, Joseph Mitchell died in October 2011. He was a member of the Cathedral of Christ the King and asked that, if possible, his donation assist the Cathedral in a particular way.
“It is a magnificent gift,” said Deacon Steve Swope, who has been shepherding the transition of the bequest on behalf of Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory. The remarkable inheritance passed on to the archdiocese includes a collection of signed “Gone With the Wind” first editions published in various languages in countries around the world and an unpublished history of the Mitchell family, handwritten by Margaret’s father, Eugene Muse Mitchell.
The movie rights were sold immediately after “Gone With the Wind” was published in 1936 to instantaneous success. Two million copies of the novel had been sold by 1939. “We want to continue to make ‘Gone With the Wind’ available to the widest possible audience and to do it in a way that is respectful and dignified and in line with the wishes of the late Stephens Mitchell,” Deacon Swope said.
The “artifacts that were part of the provenance of Margaret Mitchell” are being preserved by the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Deacon Swope said. From the Joseph Mitchell estate, Archbishop Gregory has designated that $7.5 million be given to the Cathedral of Christ the King for its building fund.
He has also assigned $1.5 million to Catholic Charities Atlanta for its immediate use and an additional $2 million to create an endowment fund for the social services agency to address its long-term need for sustaining income.
The archbishop has also asked the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia to create an endowment fund for each parish, mission and Catholic school of the archdiocese with a $10,000 gift apiece from the Joseph Mitchell estate, totaling over $1 million.
He has also assigned $150,000 to the Deacons’ Assistance Fund, $100,000 of which will be a challenge grant that is in place until May 31, 2013, to match any charitable contributions made to the fund during that time. The remainder of the Mitchell bequest will be held in reserve and used by the archdiocese for general religious purposes as requested in Joseph Mitchell’s will, Deacon Swope said.
“The Archdiocese of Atlanta has been blessed with a generous gift through the kindness of Joe Mitchell,” Archbishop Gregory said. “This gift is a reservoir of the funds earned through the genius of Margaret Mitchell and her depiction of the harsh struggles of Southern life during and after the Civil War. The Mitchell family has a proud Catholic legacy, and this gift will allow that legacy and that pride to be shared with many others in the archdiocese.”
“Christ the King parish, Joe’s church home, the works of Catholic Charities, a passionate concern for Joe, and each parish community and our schools within the archdiocese will share in the gift of his kindness,” the archbishop said. “Thus the Mitchell legacy will help the Catholic community and those that are served by the Catholic Church to have a brighter future. We should all give thanks for Joe’s kindness and remember all of the Mitchell family in our prayers.”
“The first thing I would like to say is how extremely grateful Catholic Charities Atlanta is,” said Joseph Krygiel, chief executive officer. “This gift will allow Catholic Charities to expand our services to new communities throughout North Georgia and increase our long-term sustainability.” Krygiel said the agency will use some immediate funds to modernize services, including installing a web-based client database system and replacing a number of aged vans and trucks that staff use in their refugee program, meeting refugees at the airport when they arrive and driving them to appointments as they find housing, jobs, schools and medical care, as well as picking up and moving donated goods. “We’ll be in a position to purchase some equipment we desperately needed for the last few years that will allow us to catch up to the industry,” he said.
For more information, contact Pat Chivers, Director of Communications, (678) 480-6865 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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