Image of Sarah Wilkinson (left) and her mother Penny (right)
Image of Sarah Wilkinson (left) and her mother Penny (right)

Beloved Teacher’s Bequest  Leaves Legacy of Compassion and Hope 

Sarah Wilkinson, a teacher at Walnut Hills High School and had a lifelong and legacy connection to the United Way, passed at the age of 49. Her bequest shows her compassion and selflessness towards those in her community.
July 4, 2021

CINCINNATI, Ohio. (July 4, 2021) — We were humbled and extremely appreciative when we learned longtime United Way supporter Sarah Wilkinson left a generous bequest to United Way of Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Sarah, a longtime Walnut Hills High School teacher who passed at age 49, was a selfless, compassionate person and a great friend to United Way. Her gift will have a tremendous impact on many people and serve as a testament to the way she lived her life.

Sarah's relationship with United Way started even before she was born. She was a fifth-generation donor and United Way volunteer. The family tradition of supporting United Way and its precursors, such as Community Chest, began with her great-great-grandfather, Joseph Schonthal, over 100 years ago in Columbus, Ohio. He rose from country peddler to factory owner, and he devoted the last 19 years of his life to helping children, students and families.

Joseph's son-in-law, Samuel N. Summer—Sarah's great-grandfather—served on many community boards in Columbus, including Community Chest. Sarah's grandfather, William G. Summer, was chair of Community Chest in Huntington, West Virginia. Sarah's grandmother also was involved in Community Chest agencies.

The family tradition of supporting United Way continues today with Sarah's mother, Penny Wilkinson, whose involvement with the organization stretches back 40 years. Penny and Sarah were proud of their family's longstanding partnership with United Way and often enjoyed reminiscing about the many projects their family served on over the years. For Sarah, that work included assisting with United Way campaigns and serving on several committees.

Sarah understood the tremendous impact of leaving a bequest. She knew it was a meaningful way for anyone to make a difference. It was a means for Sarah to ensure the next generation of families and students in Greater Cincinnati will be supported and served in ways that allow them to thrive.

Gifts such as Sarah's reinforce the very heart and fabric of United Way's mission. They represent a partnership between our most avid supporters and the critical work of United Way, showcasing the mutual understanding that what we do collectively is essential to helping families achieve the economic well-being they deserve.

Because of Sarah, and folks like her, United Way will continue to be a strong support system for our community far into the future. Indeed, Sarah's gift will reach far beyond her life and impact countless individuals, children and families. Its impact is truly immeasurable.


Whether through your will or trust, or a beneficiary designation, you, too, can make a tremendous impact on countless lives throughout the Greater Cincinnati community. If, like Sarah, you would like to ensure United Way is here to provide economic well-being for the next generation, please contact our Gift Planning team today. We can help you determine your best options to support those in the community you care deeply about, while also looking after your own loved ones. Learn more about your planning options at

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