Seattle Couple Leaves Entire Fortune to 'America'

Perhaps they wanted to say 'thank you' with their $847K gift
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 22, 2015 8:26 AM CDT
Seattle Couple Leaves Entire Fortune to 'America'
The Department of Treasury is $847,215.57 richer, thanks to Peter and Joan Petrasek.   (United States Attorney's Office)

The US government is $847,215.57 richer thanks to an extraordinary gift from an immigrant couple. Peter Petrasek escaped Czechoslovakia during World War II and met and married his wife Joan, an Irish immigrant, in Canada. The pair made Seattle their home in the late 1950s. Joan died in 1998 at 79, and when Peter passed away in 2012 at 85, their identical wills made clear that they had left their entire fortune to "the government of the United States of America." While it isn't clear why the couple chose such a beneficiary, the US assistant attorney who worked with the Treasury Department to accept the funds last week suspects it was a "thank you" to the country that gave them a fresh start at life. "It's pretty obvious these folks felt pretty proud they were US citizens," he tells ABC News.

Peter Petrasek was only 12 when Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia. "From what he told me, all their property was confiscated," the couple's neighbor tells the Seattle Times. "The Germans hauled off his father to a camp." His mother was left behind in Prague, his sister died in Allied bombing in Dresden, and Petrasek was put in a youth camp linked to the German air force. He and his wife had no children or living relatives when they died, and it took some time for their 1977 Ford Granada, a gun collection, and artwork to be sold. Then officials had to work out where the money would go. They decided on the Treasury's general fund. Though it took a lifetime to acquire, the $847,215 donation would have covered just 7.63 seconds of US government spending last year, based on a $3.5 trillion budget, the Times reports. (In other Nazi-related news, Hitler's long-lost bronze horses have been found.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.