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Frugal Woman Gives Hospital $2.3M

November 24, 1997

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) _ A reclusive woman has left $2.3 million to the hospital where she worked for 34 years as a part-time clerk.

Helen P. Howell, who died Sept. 2 at 72, was a frugal woman who ate TV dinners and drove a 10-year-old car.

``No husband. No children. Her dog and RMH,″ said Peggy McElmeel, who used to work with her at Rockford Memorial Hospital. ``I was one of the lucky ones to know her.″

In addition to her earnings at the hospital, Ms. Howell apparently had been left a large estate by her father. She was an only child.

Her bequest was announced last week.

``She worked every weekend and every holiday, and she did that because Helen herself had no family,″ said Caryl Miller, director of women’s services for the Rockford Health System, which operates the hospital. ``She felt, why not let people who have family be with their family?″

The hospital has not decided how to use the money.

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