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Thursday, March 22, 2007

There Was Jell-O in Her Genes

Elizabeth McNabb was 19 in 1974 when she began her search for her birth mother. Fourteen years and a court order later, she was given access to her original birth certificate in Salem, Ore. She soon after made contact with her birth mother, Barbara (Woodward) Piel, and learned that she was the product of an illicit affair.

McNabb's great-grandfather, she also learned, was Orator Francis Woodward, a Leroy, N.Y., entrepreneur who purchased a business making a flavored gelatin known as "Jell-O" from his neighbor for $450 in 1899.
Barbara Piel died in 2003, but it took until last week for McNabb to be granted her share of the multimillion-dollar Jell-O fortune.
On Friday, a unanimous New York Appellate Division, 4th Department, panel ruled that McNabb legally constitutes a "descendant" and "living child" of her mother, Barbara W. Piel, under trusts established by Piel's mother in 1926 and 1963.

McNabb -- an office manager who has with her husband cared for more than 160 emergency-care foster children -- now stands to split those two trusts with her two half-sisters. Her one-third share totals approximately $3.5 million. [Link]

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