Claire and Don Davis

Claire and Don Davis, photographed several years ago in Silver City, N.M., were big supporters of the arts.

CASA GRANDE — Four Casa Grande-based arts organizations will each receive a share of a $500,000 estate.

The BlackBox Foundation, Friends of the Casa Grande Public Library, Casa Grande Friends of the Arts Inc. (which runs the Casa Grande Art Museum) and the Strings of the Sonoran Inc. will each receive a portion of the estate left by Claire and Don Davis.

The Sisters of the Order of St. Benedict at Rock Island, Illinois, will also receive a portion of the estate.

“They were big supporters of the arts and were always extremely generous,” said Tom Cole, an attorney who handled the estate. “It was fun to mail these checks.”

Claire Davis, a retired educator and principal in Casa Grande, died in March at age 89. She and her husband, Don, who died in 2007, agreed to gift the money to the five organizations.

“She played the piano and taught music for many years,” Cole said. “They were very committed to the community. When the (art) museum was being founded, they were big supporters of that and they were among the original donors. I know she enjoyed going to (BlackBox Foundation) plays and art openings.”

The couple were among the 12 original donors who provided funding to start the Casa Grande Art Museum decades ago. They continued to make annual contributions to the organization for several years, Cole said.

“When we asked them to donate $1,000 to start the art museum, they mistakenly thought we meant $1,000 a year as opposed to a start-up donation of $1,000 to get the museum going,” Cole said. “So they continued to make a donation every year for a decade or more. The funny thing is that annual donation probably kept the head of a new entry to the community above water and nobody knew it, not even them. Of course they didn’t ask for a refund. They were the sort of folks every community is blessed with, just not enough to do everything that needs doing.”

Claire Davis had been a nun with the Order of St. Benedict at Rock Island before she met Don while back in college.

She was released from the order and the couple married. They lived in Casa Grande for many years.

“They were both very civic-minded and generous,” Cole said. “That’s just the way they were.”

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Melissa St. Aude is the Arts & Entertainment editor at PinalCentral. She can be reached at mstaude@pinalcentral.com.