Chabot College forgot about refugees bequest

Until a phone call from the Jewish Bulletin earlier this month, Chabot College officials apparently had forgotten about the $78,000 that Frieda Ahelleas willed to the public institution nearly four years ago.

"It just sat there," Lori Stahl, the college spokeswoman, acknowledged after researching the bequest.

The Hayward community college received the money in late 1994. It was deposited and left untouched.

Jean Kling, one of Ahelleas' San Leandro neighbors and the executor of her will, was flabbergasted.

"You've got to be kidding," she said. "How can you forget about $78,000?…To forget it is unreal."

Ahelleas, who died in late 1993 at age 83, was born in Germany. The Nazis confiscated the family farm and killed her parents. Already an adult, she escaped to China and then came to the Bay Area after World War II.

Her third husband preceded her in death, and she apparently had no blood relatives still living. So in her will, Ahelleas divided the bulk of her cash among four Bay Area colleges.

Stahl explained the oversight by noting that the college has had no one on staff to handle fund-raising or to track donations. The college is just now getting to the point where it can handle cash gifts, she said.

"It's actually an opportune time to discover this," Stahl said.

The college now plans to use the money to create some form of Jewish studies.