Appeal from decree of Orphans' Court of Butler County, No. 107 of 1961, in re estate of John L. Keffalas, deceased.
Gilbert J. Helwig, with him Jonathan L. Alder, John L. Wilson, and Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellants.
Lee C. McCandless, with him McCandless & McCandless, for appellees.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice O'Brien.
The instant appeal is from the final decree of the Orphans' Court of Butler County. The portions of the
decree appealed from are those which: (1) Invalidate as against public policy conditions on gifts to the testator's children contingent on their marrying spouses of "true Greek blood and descent and of Orthodox religion". (2) Deny a $12,500 credit taken by the executors for bonuses they were allegedly entitled to as employees of the testator's businesses in 1955. (3) Refuse to find created a special power of appointment in the executors by the provision that any property coming "under the jurisdiction" of the executors should be divided among the children, with preference to sons who marry Greek girls. We affirm in part and reverse in part as to Part I (the invalidation as against public policy). We affirm as to Part II (the bonuses), and we reverse as to Part III (the power of appointment).
Testator, in Paragraphs Fifth through Eleventh of his Will, gave to each of his children but Dorothy, $2,000 on condition that such child marry one of "true Greek blood and descent and of Orthodox religion". Paragraphs Twelfth and Thirteenth disposed of testator's business establishments to his three oldest sons, on the same condition. Paragraph Fourth made a conditional bequest of $2,000 to daughter, Dorothy, who had married prior to the execution of the will. That bequest was conditioned on her remarrying a man of true Greek blood and descent and of Orthodox religion, after her first marriage was terminated by death or divorce. Similarly, Paragraph Fourteenth provided a bequest of $2,000 to any child who originally married a non-Greek but later, as a result of death or divorce, remarried a Greek.
The court below invalidated all of these conditions as being violative of public policy because conducive to divorce.
It should be noted that the court below did not hold the conditions invalid as constituting an infringement on freedom of religion. We agree with the appellants that such a ruling is the only one consistent with Clayton's Estate, 13 Pa. D. & C. 413 (1929) affirmed 302 Pa. 468, 153 A. 742 (1931). There, the lower court stated that ". . . this influence, operating only on the choice of a wife, is too remote to be regarded as coercive of religious faith." Thus, a restriction on the religion of a potential spouse does not fall within the proscription of Drace v. Klinedinst, 275 Pa. 266, 118 A. ...