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Late Watertown police officer leaves generous donations for SPCA, Hospice

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The generosity of a late Watertown police officer will benefit multiple agencies, including the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Jefferson County.

Richard M. Banister, who died in November 2012 after serving in the Watertown Police Department for decades, left $224,545.62 to the SPCA.

Douglas J. Marlow, executive director of the local chapter, called it “probably the largest gift we’ve ever received.”

“It just gave me real pause for thought when we first received it,” he said.

Mr. Marlow said the group learned the bequest was in Mr. Banister’s will shortly after his death, but he said he did not know the size of it until a letter came from Mr. Banister’s attorney. Mr. Marlow said he had to call the attorney back, thinking he was reading the amount wrong.

“It’s not everyday somebody leaves you a quarter of a million dollars,” he said. “It’s a pretty amazing thing to have happen.”

Mr. Banister also left a sizeable donation to Hospice of Jefferson County, though the amount could not be confirmed Monday evening.

Mr. Banister’s donation to the SPCA came without any previous ties to the group.

“It was a complete surprise to us that he decided to leave a portion of his estate to us,” Mr. Marlow said. He said he was told the donation may have been a tribute by Mr. Banister to his mother.

Mr. Marlow said the group’s board of directors will meet soon to discuss how to use Mr. Banister’s donation.

“There’s a number of things we need to attend to,” he said.

Some of the projects that the group’s board will consider are an expansion of its surgical unit, a more comfortable meet-and-greet area for animals and prospective owners, and repairs to its building at 25056 Water St.

“There’s lots of things Mr. Bannister’s money can go for,” Mr. Marlow explained.

The SPCA will look to honor Mr. Banister’s police service, and have asked for his badge so it can be displayed prominently.

“We take it seriously that his memory be honored,” Mr. Marlow said.

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