An Illinois woman who died in December left a $45 million bequest for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

The company said Thursday the bequest from Phyllis Herndon Brissenden is one of the largest gifts in America opera history. Brissenden, of Springfield, Illinois, died Dec. 17.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Brissenden was a lifetime board member and contributed to the opera since it opened in 1976. The company's general director, Andrew Jorgensen, said the bequest will increase the company's endowment fund to $80 million from $35 million.

Some income will be available in 2022 but it will be several years before the full effect of the gift is evident.

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