Widow shocks village church with $4.4m legacy in will

Hazel Jones-OlszewskThe Diocese of St. Davids website

An Anglican church in West Wales received an extraordinary surprise after a former church member left the parish £2.6 million, or nearly $4.4 million, in her will.

Hazel Jones-Olszewsk had not attended St. David's Parish Church in Saron for over 20 years, but left her entire estate to the church when she passed 18 months ago.

Jones-Olszewsk began attending St. David's as a child, and was a regular at Sunday School services. She was the seventh of eighth children, all of whom preceded her in death. The family was not affluent, according to one villager.

"She came from a good family but they were by no means wealthy," the person, who wanted to remain anonymous, told the Daily Mail.

"She was a very likeable, ordinary woman when she lived here and it came as quite a shock when we found out how much she had left.

"It is a vast amount of money for someone who started life with very little."

Jones-Olszewsk continued attending St. David's through adulthood, and had her own prayer mat at the church. She was widowed twice, and when her second husband passed in 1991, she went to live with her son in Chelsea, west London.

Her son, who was an only child, passed in 2009. Afterwards, she moved into a nursing home in Kensington. Jones-Olszewsk died in January 2013 at the age of 84.

Some citizens of Saron believe that the churchgoer's wealth came from the estates of her late husbands and her son. Others said that the origin of the fortune is not what's important.

"I don't think people are concerned how she came by it, they are just delighted she left it to the church and it will go to the people who she thought deserved it," the villager told the Daily Mail.

Jones-Olszewsk directed that the money should be distributed across the St David's Diocese, and stand as a memorial. The church will commission a plaque to honor their former member's generosity, and plans to use the funds for their youth ministry, clerical training, and other initiatives.

A Church In Wales spokeswoman expressed gratitude for Jones-Olszewsk's gift.

"She was an ordinary woman who did an extraordinary deed in wanting people in the diocese of St David's to benefit after her death," she said in a statement.