May 24, 2011 12:39 PM by KXLF Media Center
The Butte-Silver Bow Superintendent of Schools is encouraging students to continue their letter writing campaign despite the death of their intended recipient, copper heiress Huguette Clark who reportedly died Tuesday morning at the age of 104.
The children began writing letters to Clark on Monday, the day before she died, asking her to send back money to rebuild the Columbia Gardens.
"We began the project with a clear mission and will adapt to proceed," Superintendent of Schools Cathy Maloney said in a letter.
"Although there are legal concerns now, we had them before, so please share the lesson with your students, and remain positive, Miss Clark was not our only financial avenue. Nothing ventured, nothing gained for certain! I am deeply saddened by this news, but wish to proceed, we still need to gain back the heartbeat of our fine community, making memories for our own children and grandchildren," she continued.
William Clark built the Columbia Gardens in 1899. The park was enjoyed for 74 years until it was closed in 1973 to make way for open pit mining. The park featured amusement rides, gardens, a dance pavilion, zoo and sports complex.
MSNBC.com first reported that Clark died Tuesday morning.
Clark was the last surviving child of Butte Copper King William Clark. She has been living in a New York hospital. In 2010, she was described by the Associated Press as "a recluse in a hospital room, more than 20 years after leaving her lavish Fifth Avenue apartment."
In 2010, she became the focus of a New York criminal investigation into her fortune and well-being. The Manhattan district attorney's office was looking into how she's being cared for and how her finances are being handled.
In August 2010, she donated to Butte's Paul Clark home. At the time, Executive Director of the Paul Clark Home McDonald's Family Place, Betty Ostoj, said she wrote Huguette a letter and got a response. She received a letter from the heiress' lawyers and a check for $10,000 to be used for repairs to the home. The money she sent the home has been used to put in new stoves, a refrigerator and outdoor sprinklers.
We will continue to follow this story throughout the day and will bring you more details on www.kxlf.com and on our 5:30 p.m. newscast.