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Largest Gift in History of Reed College and National Jewish Health Received from Author David Eddings

$30 million to be used to support language and literature studies, and to pioneer new approaches for the research and treatment of asthma in children

DENVER and PORTLAND, Ore., July 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- National Jewish Health and Reed College have received the largest gifts in the histories of both organizations, approximately $30 million combined, from the estate of fantasy author David Eddings. Eddings, the author of more than 25 books, passed away June 2, 2009 at his home in Carson City, Nevada at the age of 77. His wife, Leigh Eddings, co-author of his later books, died in February 2007.


Consistent with their wishes, Mr. Eddings' alma mater, Reed College in Portland, Ore., will receive two-thirds of the total estate to support students and faculty across the college with emphasis given to those studying language and literature. Denver's National Jewish Health, the nation's #1 respiratory hospital, will receive one-third of the total estate to pioneer new approaches in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of childhood asthma.

Eddings was born in Spokane in 1931, graduated from Reed College, and received a master's degree from Washington State University. He married Leigh Schell. The couple lived briefly in Denver, where David began work on his first novel, High Hunt. Eddings shifted to writing fantasy novels after picking up a copy of Lord of the Rings and noticing that it was in its 73rd printing. Eddings most notable novels were the Belgariad and Malloreon series. His wife, Leigh, was credited as co-author on his later novels. The novels have sold millions of copies around the world and were published in 27 languages. The Eddings had no children.

At Reed College, more than two-thirds of the gift will provide financial aid to help students of limited financial means attend Reed. In addition, funds will endow the David Eddings Professorship in the English department and support the cataloguing and maintenance of David Eddings' archives, which the author also gave to the college.

"It is a generous gift, the product of a lifetime of intellectual labor and deep interest in providing similar educational opportunities to future hardworking students. At a time when the college struggles to meet families' need for scholarship support, this new endowed fund is timely and will allow the college to increase funds available for financial aid as well as the academic program," said Hugh Porter, vice president of college relations. "The record of David's writing and his success are astonishing. We welcome this opportunity to recognize his achievement and to catalogue and maintain his archives."

Eddings' manuscripts and research materials will be housed in Reed College's Eric V. Hauser Memorial Library.

The gift to National Jewish Health was inspired by Eddings' wife and co-author, Leigh. Ms. Eddings suffered from asthma most of her life. According to her attorney and brother-in-law, she wanted to leave money to an institution that could make a difference in the fight against childhood asthma, and chose National Jewish Health. National Jewish Health has been recognized as a world leader in the research and treatment of asthma in children and adults. Earlier today it was named the nation's #1 respiratory hospital for the 12th consecutive year by US News & World Report.

"Asthma is the major chronic disease of childhood and a leading cause of childhood disability," said Michael Salem, M.D., National Jewish Health President and CEO. "We are extremely grateful for this generous bequest, which will fund important programs to diagnose, treat and prevent childhood asthma."

"Despite all the research and all the improvements in asthma care, emergency visits and hospitalizations for the disease have increased over the past 20 years," said Erwin Gelfand, M.D., Professor and Chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at National Jewish Health. "Our goal is the eventual prevention of asthma. This gift will help countless children, not only at National Jewish Health, but throughout the world."

Dr. Salem explained that the Eddings gift will be utilized as a part of the "Fund to Cure Asthma," which will continue to advance the National Jewish Health preventive and personalized medicine program for asthma patients.

"We have moved beyond the reactive, trial-and-error method of treating disease," said Dr. Salem. "Taking advantage of advances in genetics, proteomics, advanced imaging, and disease biology, we can now develop a personal profile of each patient, which guides our physicians from initial assessment to customized treatment. Our entire strategy is coordinated, preventive care for our patients, which serves them best and will lead the country as healthcare reform is adopted."

"Leigh and David Eddings have a literary legacy that will brighten the lives of readers for years to come," said Richard Schierburg, Chairman of the National Jewish Health Development Board. "With their wonderful bequest to National Jewish Health, they now have a legacy of saving lives and, we hope, bringing an end to asthma."

Renowned worldwide for patient care, National Jewish Health faculty also conduct groundbreaking research in both basic and clinical science. Throughout its history National Jewish Health has contributed to the discovery, development and evaluation of new asthma treatments for children. At the Kunsberg School on the National Jewish Health campus, children with moderate to severe asthma who have fallen behind in their education, learn to manage their asthma while catching up academically.

Founded in 1899 as a nonprofit hospital, National Jewish Health remains the only facility in the world dedicated exclusively to respiratory, cardiac, immune and related disorders. People from around the country and the world travel to National Jewish for its personalized care. For more information about National Jewish Health, visit

SOURCE National Jewish Health
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