Securing Their Legacy

A land donation preserves the nature of Block Island.

We’re deeply grateful to Werner and Jacob for protecting a treasured piece of Block Island.

Scott Comings, Associate State Director

The Nature Conservancy gratefully accepted Werner Feibes’ donation of a 2-acre property on Block Island, made in memory of his late husband, Jim “Jacob” Schmitt. Their land adds to the spectacular open space at Clay Head, where songbirds refuel in preparation to leave the island in the fall.

Werner and Jacob discovered the Conservancy through their longtime friendship with Chris Littlefield and Scott Comings of our Block Island staff. They first met Chris as a neighbor, when they bought a house on Block Island 40 years ago. They met Scott through their interest in his research at the bird banding station nearby.

Over years of casual conversation, walks, and countless special experiences in nature, they learned about the Conservancy’s work and were inspired to make their wonderful and lasting gift.

Werner and Jacob’s philanthropy extends beyond nature to the worlds of historic preservation and modern art. Both architects, they championed the revival of Schenectady, NY’s oldest neighborhood, the Stockade.

Through their work and travels, they befriended many of our best post-war artists and built an incredible collection. After 60-plus years together, Werner and Jacob were married in March 2013, just two months before Jacob passed away. Last year, Werner donated their entire collection–more than 150 paintings and sculptures–to the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY.

The Nature Conservancy is so thankful for their friendship and generosity, and honored by their trust in our organization.

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