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Retired teacher leaves $1.9M for cancer research

– INDIANAPOLIS – A retired Indianapolis school teacher who died February at age 94 has stunned a local cancer-research company by leaving it $1.9 million.

Margaret M. Weeks’ nearly $2 million bequest to Hoosier Oncology Group is the second-largest in the Indianapolis-based company’s history and one of its most surprising gifts.

“It came out of left field for us. We totally weren’t expecting it,” Chris Fausel, chairman of Hoosier Oncology’s board, told The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1cUGtUT).

Hoosier Oncology Group spokesman Randy Dillinger said the organization knows little about Weeks, whose gift was announced Thursday.

“There isn’t much that we know about her, which makes this kind of a mysterious gift to us, but one that we’re extremely grateful for,” he said.

The donation was made from a trust established by Weeks in 2001 through Fifth Third Bank in Evansville, where she was living until she died on Feb. 14 at Good Samaritan Home in Evansville.

Many questions remain about Weeks, who was preceded in death by her husband, John F. Weeks. Her obituary states that she was a retired schoolteacher from the Indianapolis School Corp.

A news release from the Hoosier Oncology Group said Weeks taught in Indianapolis Public Schools, but it’s unclear in which schools she may have taught.

Fausel said the company is considering naming an annual award for Weeks.

Hoosier Oncology Group was formed in 1983, a collaboration between researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Walther Cancer Institute. It has 26 employees.

Fausel said Hoosier Oncology, which performs clinical trials on new medicines and therapies, will use the gift to hold more blood and tissue samples for research and support other cancer research methods.

Boosting those abilities will “support the studies that are unlocking the genetic mystery of cancer,” he said in a statement.

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