After passing away from cancer, donor leaves behind estate to help Bay Area charities

Adele Bernett used her riches to help enrich the lives of others. She passed away last year from pancreatic cancer, but, left her estate to continue her legacy of giving back to her community. 

Taking care of animals has gotten easier for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay thanks to the Adele S. Bernett Estate Fund. They donated $100,000.

"Being a non-profit, donations are everything to us," said Sherry Silk, CEO Humane Society of Tampa Bay. "We do make a little money off of our hospital and our adoptions, but we rely on donations, and obviously the more money we have, the more animals we can help."

Adele passed away from cancer last year and made long-time friend, Simon Canasi, the executor of her estate.

"So far, we have gifted monies to 50 different charities, of which more than 90% of those charities are Tampa Bay-based. The other ones, may not be based here, but they have a presence in the community," he said.

After careers at USF and Moffitt Cancer Center, plus some inheritance, Adele left almost $10 million dollars behind. She never married or had children.

Adele Bernett

So, Simon helped figure out which Bay Area non-profits received some of Adele's good fortunes.

"The first thing I did was to do a search on the internet of some of the neediest charities in the Tampa Bay area, and I came up with a number of them," he explained. "I also went to her friends and to her cousins and said, ‘Is there a particular charity that's important to you that you would love for Adele's donor-advised fund to contribute to in her memory and in your honor?’"  

Adele was born and raised in the Bay Area. Simon said they meet 35 years ago and became good friends.

"One of the things that we'll be doing with this fund moving forward is that we're going to concentrate a lot on organizations that help people that need financial help health care," he said.

Simon retired three years ago and said working for the estate has been a labor of love.

"I've given it all. I've given it my all," he said. "And it's, you know, it's like being Santa Claus to be honestly, it's been great."

Bringing an early Christmas present to charities who don't have much under the financial tree.

"She was an incredible human being. And with a generous heart and a loving heart," said Simon. "And I'm a better person for having known her for as long as I did, and that's, you know, what more can I say about this beautiful person?"

The fund has given money to the Humane Society of Tampa, Tampa Jewish Family Services, scholarships to Latino students at USF and other organizations.