Bob and Jewel Speer Leave a Lasting Legacy of Freedom
"Who is going to go out and lead the battle?"
Those were the words of Jewel Speer, in an interview just 12 days before she passed away in 2010. She was explaining why she and her husband, Bob, decided to make a generous bequest to PLF. The Speers were ardent supporters of preserving property rights. Their convictions arose from their remarkable life story.
They met in the mid-1920s while Bob was a chemist at the Shell refinery in Houston, Texas. As a young woman in Texas, Jewel enjoyed the wide open country on her horse, Button, and later on her Harley-Davidson. She aspired to become an attorney - almost unheard of in her day - and accomplished her goal. Subsequently, she wrote many of the original deed restrictions for properties in Houston, a city, at the time, without zoning.
While in London during World War II, Bob developed a higher octane fighter and bomber fuel that eventually turned the tide in the air war over Europe. Jimmy Doolittle was the most notable pilot who tested this new fuel.
After the war, they settled in St. Louis, but they found themselves drawn to the northern California coast, where Jewel had visited frequently with her parents during her childhood. They purchased a couple of acres in the Carmel highlands. With Jewel's training in land use and home design, they built a model for their home based on maintaining the innate beauty of the land.
Following the enactment of the California Coastal Act in 1972, the Speers were alarmed at how the Act interfered with rights of others to develop their property in the coastal zone as they had enjoyed. While the Speers had originally envisioned a quiet retirement, they decided instead to become deeply involved in preserving property rights and became ardent supporters of PLF.
They began with a small gift of $25 in 1978 and, over time, steadily increased their commitment as they recognized more and more that PLF was the leading organization in the country fighting to protect private property rights. Wanting to see liberty flourish in this country for decades to come, they decided they could make a difference. They informed us in 2001 of their decision to leave the bulk of their estate to us.
Bob passed away in 2002, and Jewel passed away at the age of 101 in 2010. The Speer's bequest, to date, is the largest gift made to PLF. To honor their generosity, PLF created the Speer Legacy Society to honor the Speers and other forward thinking individuals who choose to preserve liberty for generations that follow by making a planned gift benefitting PLF. Thanks to the incredible generosity of these property rights champions and others that follow, we can affirmatively answer that PLF will lead the battle in the courts to defend this most precious of all our civil rights.
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