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First Nat'l Bank v. Canton Campfire Girls

OPINION FILED MAY 22, 1981.

THE FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF CHICAGO, TRUSTEE,

v.

CANTON COUNCIL OF CAMPFIRE GIRLS, INC., ET AL., APPELLEES (BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE CANTON PARK DISTRICT, APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Francis T. Delaney, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE RYAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied October 19, 1981.

___ N.E.2d ___

In an inter vivos trust, William Ingersoll provided that at his death certain income be paid to the Girl Scouts of Canton, Illinois. The trust also provided that the portion of the income of the trust payable to any organization that ceased to exist was to be paid to the Canton Park District. Since no Girl Scout troops met regularly in Canton at the time of Ingersoll's death, the trustee filed suit in the circuit court of Cook County, seeking instructions as to how to dispose of that share of the income. The court directed the income be paid to the Canton Council of Campfire Girls. The appellate court, with one justice dissenting, reversed and directed the income be paid to the Kickapoo Council of Girl Scouts. (81 Ill. App.3d 932.) We granted the Canton Park District leave to appeal under our Rule 315 (73 Ill.2d R. 315).

The share of the income in question under the trust was to be paid to the "Girl Scouts of Canton, Illinois." As above indicated, if the organization ceased to exist, the income was payable to the Canton Park District. The trustee in its suit suggested three possible recipients as defendants: the Kickapoo Council of Girl Scouts, the Canton Council of Campfire Girls, Inc., and the board of trustees of the Canton Park District.

On May 23, 1949, Ingersoll executed his original trust agreement. Under the agreement, the settlor reserved for himself both the income from the trust during his life, as well as the power to amend the trust. Upon his death much of the income of the trust was to be divided among various charitable beneficiaries. Aware that the name ascribed to a certain charity may be a misnomer, the settlor inserted the following into the agreement:

"The Donor does not have available the correct corporate name of the organizations referred to above and has used the name by which they are commonly known in the locality which they serve. It is the Donor's intention that payments be made to the legal corporation regardless of what its name may be which is in the judgment of the trustee, commonly known by the name used herein."

On December 14, 1956, Ingersoll amended the trust. Among other changes, he added the Girl Scouts of Canton, Illinois, to the list of charitable beneficiaries. It was to receive $5,000 per year. On September 28, 1959, Ingersoll again amended the trust. He increased the amount of the gift to the Girl Scouts of Canton, Illinois, to $10,000 per year.

Between 1959 and 1967 Ingersoll amended the trust several more times. As a result, on May 31, 1967, the settlor again changed the trust and on this occasion executed a totally new trust instrument. He also changed the benefit each charity would receive from a dollar amount to a percentage of the net income of the trust. Under this instrument, the Girl Scouts of Canton, Illinois, was to receive 5% of the income. Ingersoll died in 1973.

Girl Scouting began in Canton in 1947. Until 1951 it functioned as a "lone troop," associated only with the national office of the Girl Scouts of America. In 1951, however, Girl Scouting in Canton came under the authority of a regional council. This council, the Kickapoo Council of Girl Scouts, was headquartered in Peoria. It eventually became responsible for Girl Scouting activities in a 10-county area. Girl Scouting flourished in Canton during most of the 1950's. By 1959, there were several troops in Canton, comprised of girls from Canton and surrounding areas.

In 1959, following a disagreement between Canton troop leaders and representatives of the Kickapoo Council, the Canton troop leaders, as well as the girls belonging to those troops, resigned. They then joined the Campfire Girls, establishing their own council in Canton. The Campfire Girls provides services similar to those rendered by the Girl Scouts. After this rift, Girl Scouting ceased to exist in Canton, except for one senior troop which briefly continued in a nearby town. This, too, ceased by the middle 1960's.

Since that time, Canton girls wishing to join the Girl Scouts have joined troops which met in other towns. Attempts to recruit leaders and members from Canton have been unsuccessful. The Kickapoo Council continues to have jurisdiction over Canton for any Girl Scout activities that may be instituted. There has never been an association whose legal name was the Girl Scouts of Canton, Illinois.

After a trial without a jury, the court found that through this gift Ingersoll intended to benefit the young ladies of Canton and that the jurisdiction and background of the Campfire Girls make it the only group which could achieve the settlor's intent. As a result, the trial court directed that the Campfire Girls receive the trust income.

On appeal, the appellate court reversed the circuit court, finding that the Kickapoo Council, although inactive in Canton, continued to exist as the sole legal authority for the Girl Scouts in that area. As a result, the court held it to be ...


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