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Hospital Receives $2-Million Donation

The Dhont family trust will pay the amount to a Fullerton medical center over five years.

March 15, 2004|Stanley Allison | Times Staff Writer

St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton will receive a $2-million donation from the Dhont Family Foundation, a trust started by Andre and Eveline Dhont, an immigrant couple who parlayed an investment in a gas station into a fortune in north Orange County real estate.

The donation, which was announced Saturday at the annual St. Jude Damas de Caridad charity gala at the Disneyland Hotel, will be paid over a five-year period, said the couple's son Andre Dhont.

The couple, both now deceased, came to California from Belgium in the '50s. They lived in a converted garage in Anaheim, worked and saved their money first to buy a gas station on Anaheim Boulevard.

They later bought a 24-unit apartment building in Anaheim, then a 45-unit building in Santa Ana, and moved up to a 248-unit complex, Nutwood West, across from Cal State Fullerton.

After the senior Andre Dhont died in 1999, and Eveline in 2001, Nutwood West was put into a trust and became the cornerstone of the Dhont Family Foundation, their son said.

"When they established the foundation, they wanted [donations] to go toward Orange County charities," the son said. The St. Jude bequest "is the kind of donation they had in mind."

The gift is among the largest the medical center has received during a $200-million expansion and renovation project, including a $1.8-million gift from the Knott family for the completion of the Knott Family Endoscopy Center.

Robert J. Fraschetti, president and CEO of the medical center said, "It was a generous community that built St. Jude Medical Center in 1957, and that tradition continues today with the Dhont family's contribution."

The project is scheduled to be completed in 2007.

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