Millions left to charity after Queenstown man dies from cancer
Yevrah Ornstein with her trusty golden retriever, Breeze. Photo / Mountain scene
A Queenstown resident who died of cancer last week is leaving millions of dollars to environmental, animal welfare and children’s charities.
Former American Yevrah Ornstein, who was 70, has stipulated the sale of his solar home at Lakeside Estates – estimated at around $ 6 million – and further investments go to four international charities as well as to KidsCan of Nova -Zeeland and Save the Children NZ.
Donations of invested funds will be made annually in perpetuity.
Ornstein created a foundation for US-based charities – Nature Resources Defense Council and Rocky Mountain Institute, Animal Welfare Institute and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – and a charitable trust for the two Kiwi charities, whose purpose is “to serve and protect children in New Zealand”.
Neighbor Peter Thodey said when Ornstein found out he was going to die, “we were talking one day about what he wanted to do with his estate and I said, ‘why not create a trust?’ “
In notes taken before his hospitalization, he wrote: “Beside my passion [for] environmental issues lay in my ever-present respect for education – whether it was educating people about the climate crisis and protecting what we were endowed with as stewards of the natural environment.
“The charities I have chosen do a great job of protecting and serving children and nature.”
He notes that his life was transformed while working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador in the 1970s.
After buying, repairing and selling homes for a living, he moved from New York to California where he became active in the growing men’s movement.
He has published a quarterly article called The Men’s Journal and has written two books on male psychology and development.
After falling in love with New Zealand on frequent visits, he moved to Queenstown 20 years ago, becoming manager and co-owner of the upscale Matakauri Lodge for several years.
In 2014, he opened a Mexican restaurant franchise, Zambrero, in The Landing complex – the chain had a charity initiative in which every meal sold saw another given to people in poor countries.
However, his business did not last long.
Ornstein successively lived in homes designed by Christchurch eco-architect, the late Roger Buck, and built by local master craftsman Tony Baker – the first at Alpine Retreat and the last at Lakeside Estates, which was Buck’s last home. ever conceived.
Ornstein compared the second house to “a work of art”.
“I think we all have a role to play in the environment – it’s my way of contributing,” he told Mountain Scene.
His friend Kris Lukaszewicz said he was “a pretty generous man – I know he has supported a number of charities throughout his life”.
“He was in alternative and renewable energy 20 years ago, he was way ahead of his time.”
Over the years, he had successively owned five golden retrievers.
Her latest, Breeze, visited her in the hospital twice a day and has now been adopted by a local couple.