The Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center, a 200-acre facility at Morven Park, has received a $250,000 check from California philanthropist and former Leesburg resident Irwin Uran, bringing his total contributions to the center to about a half-million dollars in the last five years.
The latest round of Uran's now legendary generosity to local residents and organizations--which he generally bestows during the Christmas season--also extended to the Loudoun County Animal Shelter and the Loudoun Museum, which received $50,000 each.
In a handwritten letter to the medical center's director, G. Frederick Fregin, Uran said the donation was meant to spark interest among other contributors during the holidays. He asked that the money be used for the hospital's emergency rooms and that a plaque be put up "in memory of Dr. Arthur and Rose Uran," his parents. He also encouraged the hospital to hire veterinarians "of all different religious and racial backgrounds."
"He's very much an individual," Fregin said. "He's very thoughtful to his approach in caring for animals. He has a good heart."
Fregin said Uran's past donations have been used to buy additional intensive care equipment, such as automated fluid pumps, and to hire more staff members to care for an estimated total of 3,000 horses treated at the center each year. The facility, part of the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech, generally gets the complicated and life-threatening cases that are beyond the ken of a veterinarian making a barn visit.
Uran has given about $2 million in the last two years to the Town of Leesburg and various nonprofit groups in the county, including a substantial contribution to the Loudoun Jewish Congregation for a synagogue and one to the Loudoun County library system for a Holocaust collection. Until now, he has not sought publicity for his donations.
In a scrawl that many town officials have come to recognize, Uran wrote to Fregin, "You should give this donation extensive and wide publicity, as the country is in 'Boom Times,' and, it may, hopefully, encourage others to give substantial donations as well."
During his approximately three years in Leesburg, Uran lived in the Best Western hotel and was often mistaken for a farmer because he frequently wore a cap, soiled blue jeans and a jean jacket.
Fregin said Uran occasionally brought a sick or injured Mustang or draft horse to the center from the farm he owned in Middleburg. He once sued his former fiancee in Loudoun County Circuit Court over the ownership of a goat, a cat, some horse photographs and some cash, but the suit was dismissed when Uran could not be located.
No one is quite sure of Uran's whereabouts; his letter listed a Beverly Hills, Calif., return address and was postmarked in New York. Fregin said he talked to Uran on the phone shortly before Thanksgiving.
Officials at the county's animal shelter said they would use the money to care for stray animals, promote pet adoptions and possibly run newspaper and cable TV ads to educate the public about vaccinating and neutering their dogs and cats and licensing their dogs.
Last year, Uran gave the animal shelter $50,000 in honor of his dog, Roger, who died last year. The money was used to help pay for adding and renovating kennel space for dogs and cats, said Robert F. Montgomery, director of the shelter.
Uran's letter to the museum indicated that the money should be used for "the growth, development and enhancement" of museum activities. A previous donation was used to hire an architect to redesign and adapt the museum's building.