The work of local land conservation will benefit greatly from a generous bequest by the late Vivienne Jordahl, a Hendersonville resident who loved nature, gardening and animals. When she passed away in 2022, Jordahl left $1.75 million to Conserving Carolina, a land trust based in Hendersonville.

“We are so grateful that Ms. Jordahl acted out of her great love for nature with this outstanding legacy gift, which has opened doors for us to protect more land and to strengthen our restoration and stewardship work,” said Conserving Carolina’s Executive Director Kieran Row. “We are already seeing great benefits from her gift, which has been invested to continue supporting conservation well into the future.”

Born in England in 1943, Jordahl studied special education before moving to the United States to work as a tutor and met her husband, Bernhard, in Washington D.C. They lived in the Washington area for many years where Jordahl participated in tea and garden clubs for British women and enjoyed going dancing with her husband. She did volunteer work, including maintaining bluebird boxes — just one expression of her lifelong love of birds. Her niece, Kathryn Brue, trustee of her estate, remembers her Aunt Vivi often had a bird in her home. The colorful pet birds would fly through the house and land on her finger.

“Vivi seemed to speak their language,” Brue said.

The couple later retired to Hendersonville and delighted in their new home in the mountains. Bernhard adored his wife and would bring her a cup of tea every morning before she got out of bed. After Bernhard passed away in 2009, Jordahl continued to maintain warm relationships with family and friends. At the time of her death, she had seven nieces and nephews located around the globe, a number of British second cousins and a circle of dear friends. As she aged, her garden and steep lot were too much for her and she employed three landscapers who she regarded as family.

Brue remembers her aunt as a quiet, reflective, and thoughtful.

“Her heart was for the outdoors — birds, animals, gardens, flowers,” she said. “Vivi didn’t have any children of her own, but she gave a lot of love to the Earth and its inhabitants in many ways. She cared deeply about the land.”

This legacy lives on through her bequest to the nonprofit Conserving Carolina, which has helped to protect more than 48,000 acres in Transylvania, Henderson, Polk and surrounding counties.

Conserving Carolina has invested much of this bequest in an endowment and the interest from that investment is making it possible to hire much-needed staff to support land conservation and habitat restoration. Another portion of the bequest was placed in a revolving fund to help purchase additional conservation properties.

“This gift demonstrates the transformative impact that legacy gifts can have,” Roe said. “The truth is that we’ve struggled with capacity challenges for some time, but it was only because of this generous bequest that we were able to hire much-needed staff. More land will be protected and more animals will find habitat, thanks to Ms. Jordahl’s thoughtful legacy. I hope that other people who love this wonderful region will feel inspired by her example.”

Conserving Carolina is planning to create a pollinator garden in memory of Jordahl as part of the Las Flores project near her neighborhood in Haywood Knolls. Las Flores will be an outdoor gathering space for the local Hispanic community and neighbors, including a community garden and the memorial pollinator garden. Conserving Carolina envisions the pollinator garden full of beautiful native plants, providing vital habitat for bees, butterflies, birds and other wild creatures — an ongoing tribute to a woman who loved the living world.

If you are interested in making a legacy gift or want to discuss planned giving options, please reach out to Conserving Carolina’s development director, Jenn Tutor, at (828) 697-5777 ext. 209.

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