Five Decades Into Forever

Anna Damerel

Anna Damerel

Anna Damerel has been a steady presence at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts for more than 50 years. Although she doesn't recall many details from her first visit as a teenager, the experience made a strong impression. "Growing up in rural Botetourt County," she recalls, "I had never been to a museum before that trip to Richmond, but I've always enjoyed art."

As a young mother, she brought her sons to see the mummies in the Treasure of Tutankhamun exhibition. She and her late husband, John, were regular attendees during the Virginia Museum Theater's heyday.

Anna's involvement with the museum deepened as she approached retirement. "I was looking for an organization where I could volunteer, and The Council really appealed to me." She became a Sunday afternoon regular in the Shop, and later worked in the membership office, serving nearly 25 years as a Council volunteer.

After her children were grown and her husband passed away, Anna determined that she could make a planned gift to the museum. "I wanted to make a gift that made sense for me financially and would have a lasting impact on the museum," Anna notes.

Anna established a named endowment whose annual income will support the museum's greatest needs. Over the past decade, she's begun to build the fund using the required minimum distributions from her IRA, which has the added benefit of excluding the withdrawals from her taxable income. Anna also named VMFA as a beneficiary of the IRA to fulfill her endowment pledge.

"Even though I'm now a retired volunteer, I rarely miss an exhibition or an opportunity to learn something new about the collection," Anna says. "I'm glad to be able to give something back to the museum that I've enjoyed for so long."

Like Anna, you can make a lasting impact at VMFA through an estate gift. To learn more, please contact Erin Sheets Elder at or 804.340.1619.