View all News & Photos

Phoenix Legacy Society: Dr. Marilyn L. Rudin, MD and Richard S. Testut, Jr. Share Why They Included the Garden in their Estate Planning 

Richard S. Testut, Jr. and Dr. Marilyn L. Rudin, MD

Dr. Marilyn L. Rudin, MD and Richard S. Testut, Jr. fell in love later in life. Both widowed, the two married in 2009. In each other, they found a partner to spend their sunset years with. But rather than enter any kind of slow fade, Rudin and Testut’s active participation in Portland’s thriving arts and culture scene has imbued them with a vibrancy that renders false the notion that one must slow to a halt in their 80s. For them, joining the Garden’s Phoenix Legacy Society (in addition to the Golden Crane Recognition Society), has helped elicit something they cherish: a sense of community. The Phoenix Legacy Society is not an epilogue for these two; it is a new chapter filled with opportunities to share meaningful experiences with like-minded neighbors. 

Rudin is a born and bred Oregonian who has lived in different corners of the state, with stops in Forest Grove, Independence, and Salem before settling in Lake Oswego. For her, Portland Japanese Garden was something she was aware of on the periphery but never deeply attuned to. Testut, meanwhile, was born in New Jersey, college educated in Indiana, served as an officer for the U.S. Military stationed in Germany, and worked as a sales and marketing professional in Los Angeles before eventually relocating to the Pacific Northwest. 

Testut recalls that he first became more aware of the Garden through a PBS special. Already enchanted with Japanese gardens borne out of a trip he had taken to Tokyo, he developed a quick fondness for the one in his community. “I remember climbing the pathway through the thick fir trees,” Testut recalled from this initial visit. “The serenity of the area started coming to me. I enjoyed the Pavilion and Tea House, the Heavenly Falls and the koi.”  

The Antique Gate in the Entry Garden.

“The path through the Entry Garden is brilliant,” Rudin added. “It is a transition from the busy world to the peaceful world, to a calm world where you have a chance to down regulate into a different frame of mind before you even get to the rest of the Garden. If you just walked through a portal and -bam- you’re in Portland Japanese Garden, it would not be quite the same.”  

Rudin can appreciate transitions away from hecticness more than most. Deeply devoted to her work as a doctor working in pulmonary and critical care, Rudin’s work weeks would often exceed 100 hours, reducing her free time to a bare minimum. While she always had an interest in arts and culture, it was her retirement and marriage to Testut, someone already involved with local cultural organizations, that served as a catalyst to becoming more heavily involved as a donor and volunteer.  

“We like a certain social element in our philanthropy,” Rudin shared. “Sure, you can give money and write a check, but the Garden offers what we call ‘culture context.’ When you join the Phoenix Legacy Society and Golden Crane Society, you’re invited to things, you’re engaged. And that makes a big difference—we’re not just givers, we’re also receivers of information. We like to be updated.” 

“It is a different experience when you are involved in the Garden and its events,” agreed Testut. “We enjoy it very much.” 

“We like a certain social element in our philanthropy. Sure, you can give money and write a check, but the Garden offers what we call ‘culture context.’ When you join the Phoenix Legacy Society and Golden Crane Society, you’re invited to things, you’re engaged. And that makes a big difference—we’re not just givers, we’re also receivers of information. We like to be updated.” 

Dr. Marilyn Rudin

When it comes to those who might consider joining Rudin and Testut in the Phoenix Legacy Society and including the Garden in their estate planning, Rudin suggests they ask themselves, “Where do you like to go? Where do you like to spend your time? Is socialization important? Focus on what you value. 

Beyond the social element the Phoenix Legacy Society provides them, Rudin and Testut wanted to join because they care about their local community here in Oregon. “We feel the Garden has given something to us,” said Rudin. “It’s given us a lot of personal value and helped us feel that we have been receiving, so now we’re giving back.” 

Rudin and Testut also see joining the Phoenix Legacy Society as a way of helping the Garden long into the future. “I’d like to help the Garden continue to evolve, such as with the expansion of the Cultural Village,” Testut offered. “It’s a special atmosphere when you’re up here, and the Garden seems to be very active in working toward humans coexisting in a calm manner. And then also the [Garden’s sibling organization] Japan Institute, which is just starting up, can inspire peace and harmony e and go even further than the Garden can.” 

The Phoenix Legacy Society helps individuals align their estate planning process with their philanthropic
interests. The Society is also Portland Japanese Garden’s way of thanking the incredibly generous people
who choose to honor the Garden in this highly meaningful way. For more information about Phoenix Legacy Society, contact our Director of Philanthropy, Claire Eisenfeld, at [email protected] or (503) 542-0281.