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Peabody Conservatory receives $800,000 donation from former employee, alumna

A reception will be held Wednesday at the Peabody Conservatory in honor of the late Mary C. Walker, who upon her death donated $800,000 to the institution where she studied and worked for most of her life.

The bulk of Walker's gift — $600,000 — is being designated for undergraduate scholarships, the Conservatory announced recently. The remaining $200,000 will be split evenly between the alumni fund and the archives.

Walker was a granddaughter of a man who made his fortune in the 19th century in the meatpacking business. She graduated from the Conservatory in 1934 with a degree in piano, only to return eight years later as secretary of the Conservatory office. During her 36 years at the Peabody, she became the school's first director of alumni relations. Even after Walker retired in 1976, she remained active with the conservatory until her death on Dec. 22, 2011 at age 100.

Wednesday's ceremony also will honor the late Lynn Hebden, the Baltimore-born lyric soprano who headed the Peabody Preparatory Department for more than two decades. Hebden died earlier this year.

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