MELBOURNE, FLA. — After remembering family members in their will, James and Sara Ortega of Melbourne Beach left the balance of their estate, valued at
approximately $2.5 million, to Florida Institute of Technology. Ortega, who died in October 2008, outlived his wife Sara by just one week.
Ortega was already well known to the university. In 2004 he donated $150,000 to augment funding for what today is the Ortega 0.8-meter reflecting
telescope, the largest research telescope in Florida.
In June the university received more than $600,000 of the bequest to initiate the Ortega Endowment for Astronomy and Astrophysics. The endowment will fund
scholarships, fellowships and research opportunities for the Department of Physics and Space Sciences.
“This gives the department a giant boost,” said Kenneth Stackpoole, senior vice president for advancement. “Dr. Ortega’s gift is great example of how
someone can leave an estate to a good cause while also taking care of family members.”
Terry Oswalt, head of the Florida Tech Department of Physics and Space Sciences, spent a great deal of time with Ortega in recent years. He said, “Although
he was a professor at the University of Virginia for many years, Dr. Ortega felt his gift would have a much greater impact on Florida Tech. The legacy will
benefit students and faculty here for generations to come.”
The Ortega estate includes bank accounts, mutual funds, a condominium and other real estate as well as the his books, which he donated to Florida Tech’s
Evans Library. The condominium in Melbourne Beach, where Ortega lived, will be used by visiting professors.