Benjamin Clymer’s Gift is a short story about love and loss, greed and deceit…
Benjamin Clymer was a farmer whose wife taught him to read when he was twenty-three. Devastated after her sudden death and the death of their infant son, he abandoned the farm and took a job as a carver in a furniture factory. Alone in a room in a boarding house, reading became his refuge. Books transported him into other people’s worlds, allowing him to briefly forget his own loss. Years later an impulsive visit to a college gave him an idea for a unique memorial to her.
In the spring of 1927, he went to see an attorney, Charles Gustafson, to have his will drawn. The attorney listened with amazement to Benjamin's plan for his bequest. He had never met a man as decent and trusting as Benjamin, who believed without question that his gift would be honored if there was a proper legal document. Gustafson drew the will, insisting on a clause that Benjamin found objectionable. The clause gave Gustafson a weapon in his eventual shocking battle with a coniving college president to honor the terms of Benjamin's most unusual gift.