February 26, 1927
David Bourdette Burgert passed away in Toledo, Ohio last year. Described by friends as a “genial gentleman” and an “exceptional conversationalist,” Burgert was also wealthy. Stinking rich, in fact; his estate was valued at $500,000 (almost $6 million in current money). A bachelor, Burgert dictated that all but $500 of his estate be put in a trust fund, the income from which would accrue to the benefit of the Kirkendall family of Omaha, Nebraska.
This was all well and good, especially for the Kirkendalls, but Burgert was a man with a vision. His will stipulated that fifty years after the death of Bourdette Kirkendall, Jr. (two years of age in 1927), the remainder of the trust would be used to build “a home for girls between the ages of 16 and 28 years, of small stature (no fat girls need apply), bright, ambitious, stylish, and good to look at,” the Times explained. The newspaper speculated that it might be as long as 100 years before “The Burgert Apartments” (the will provided the building’s name) took shape. Whatever decade the ground was finally broken, no expense was to be spared; at least $50,000 was to be spent on the building’s construction in Toledo.
The home would provide accommodation for between 30 and 40 girls, slim and “ambitious to live and to see brighter and better environments of life than what they are used to,” the will stipulated, “for young women who have to provide a living for themselves in the business world; who have natural ambitions to see things as their more fortunate sisters see them.
“Nature has given this type of young woman [the will continued] a love for beautiful things that unfortunately parents can not provide.” Perhaps with this last codicil in mind, Burgert attached a photograph of himself to the document and requested that it be reproduced as a painting to be hung where “I may look down on the good work that this will is intended to do” (and perhaps a pillow fight or two).
“May the world be bright and happy for those girls as it has been for me,” the will concluded. One can only hope the “comely and ambitious” young women of sometime around 2027 appreciate their benefactor from the past, who clearly didn’t anticipate the advent of fat discrimination lawsuits.