A Husband's Wish & A Wife's Estate Plans

The Russell H. and Lucie E. Atwater Fund provides the Greater New Haven community with benefits for "public, charitable and educational uses and purposes absolutely and forever."

  • Legacy of local real estate attorney and former Foundation Distribution Committee member lives on.
  • Wife Lucie Atwater leaves bequest of $3.6 million in Foundation's 80th anniversary year
  • Community benefits with permanent source of revenue for "public, charitable and educational uses and purposes absolutely and forever"
Russell served in the Military Police Criminal Investigations Unit which included time in France and Belgium in WWII.

Russell Atwater is a legend in the New Haven real estate community. If you were a buyer, seller, bank or developer between 1932 and 1972, you probably encountered the man who became a partner at Clark, Hall and Peck, like his father before him. The firm was the largest in New Haven known for title searches and closings, especially during the post World War II era of tremendous expansion of home ownership and commercial development.

A Hillhouse High School, Yale University and Yale Law School graduate, Russell was admitted to the bar in 1932. His former law partner Paul North recalls: “Russ’ monument is in the land records; when you see his name on a deed you know that a master has gone before you. He was just as zealous in protecting the rights of a small home owner as the rights of a major corporation.”

Russell was also known for his leadership of many local organizations, including the Kiwanis Club, Red Cross and the New Haven Parks Commission. He served as a Director of First Federal Savings and Loan Association and a Director of the Parole Board of the CT Reformatory. He was also elected to three terms on the Board of Alderman and served as the Republican Minority leader in 1944. Between 1944 - 45, Russell was inducted into the army and served in the Military Police Criminal Investigations Unit which included time in the U.S., France and Belgium. His service earned him 4 decorations and citations. From 1949 - 1957, he was a member of the Board of what was then the New Haven Foundation.

Russell met Lucie, his future wife, while visiting a friend at Penn Hall Junior College, where she went to school. The two were married in 1934 in Lucie’s hometown of London, Ohio. Early in their marriage, the Atwaters lived in New Haven. They moved to Milford in the early 50s and to Hamden in the 90s after Russell retired. Before his death in 1996, Russell applied his legal and financial acumen to ensure his family would live comfortably. Their only child Russell Wilson Atwater died in 2002.

Lucie paid tribute to her husband by making plans in her will to give equal parts of her estate to The Foundation, Yale University and Yale Law School. Lucie had no heirs and knew that her husband would have been pleased with her decision to forever support the organizations he so loved in life. Upon Lucie’s death, The Russell H. and Lucie E. Atwater Fund was created as an unrestricted fund, “to be used for public, charitable and educational uses and purposes.” The funds from the Atwater legacy have been applied by The Foundation to support Project ROOF, which helps homeowners to avoid foreclosure.

To learn more about endowment opportunities, please contact Sharon Cappetta or 203-777-7071.

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