Donor leaves record $50 million gift to
The Pittsburgh Foundation
PITTSBURGH, Pa., January 6, 2011 – A former chemical engineer, Charles Kaufman has left a gift of approximately $50 million to The Pittsburgh Foundation, the biggest-ever bequest in the organization’s 65-year history.
Mr. Kaufman passed away last fall, shortly after his 97th birthday, leaving his estate – amassed largely during his retirement through investment and entrepreneurial ventures – to two separate funds he previously established at the Foundation
“This is a phenomenal gift to our community,” said Grant Oliphant, The Pittsburgh Foundation’s President and CEO. “The benefits this represents now and in the future for local charitable organizations, and the families, individuals and communities they serve, are immeasurable.
“Charles Kaufman’s selfless philanthropy will reach out to people he never knew, in support of charitable causes about which he cared so much.”
Proceeds from Mr. Kaufman’s estate are still being administered by attorneys, Goehring, Rutter & Boehm. Partner with the firm and executrix of the estate of Charles Kaufman, Wendy Denton Heleen, said: “Charles was blessed with a keen intellect and a talent for making good business decisions.
“But he also had a heart of gold and leaves behind him a legacy that will benefit our community for generations. In recent years he took great satisfaction in planning this gift and thinking about the good that would come from his life’s work and he died a contented man.”
The major share of Mr. Kaufman’s gift will expand one of his funds at the Foundation, the Charles E. Kaufman Foundation to provide one of the biggest grantmaking resources for scientific research in the state of Pennsylvania.
The fund will receive between $35 million and $40 million from his estate over the next 12 months and will support scientific research activities in chemistry, biology and physics, which may include endowed chairs, fellowships, and awards “for achievement in and contribution to the field and humanity.”
Since the fund was created with an initial $1.5 million in 2005, it has made three $50,000 awards recognizing “substantial contributions to science for both the betterment and understanding of human life.”
In 2008, when he presented the Fund’s first award of $50,000 to Terry Collins, Thomas Lord Professor of Chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, for his pioneering research in green chemistry, Mr. Kaufman said: “This is my way to give back. I believe this research is going to make a big difference to our world. I can accomplish more through others than I ever could myself.”
The balance of Mr. Kaufman’s bequest to the Foundation will go to an advised fund at The Pittsburgh Foundation he established with his late sister, Virginia Kaufman and will continue to support charitable causes about which they were especially passionate, including public education, land conservation and Jewish healthcare, including programs for the elderly.
The fund was established in 1984 with $100,000. Since then, it has grown to $3.4 million, and has made grants of nearly $400,000 to local nonprofits, including The Pittsburgh Promise.
“Charles Kaufman’s is an extraordinary story,” said Grant Oliphant. “He had a deep sense of caring and responsibility for his community. He truly wanted to make a difference and the Foundation is honored and proud that he chose to partner with us to make this possible. Our community will be forever grateful.”
Born in Clarion, Pa., in 1913, Mr. Kaufman never married and for most of his life, he lived in the South Hills. His late sister, Virginia Kaufman, died in April 2008, also leaving approximately $3 million to The Pittsburgh Foundation.
Mr. Kaufman graduated from Clarion High School, before earning a B.S. in chemical engineering at the University of Cincinnati in 1936. After beginning his working career with the Hagan Corporation in Pittsburgh – which later became the Calgon Corporation and then Merck & Co., – he earned a Masters Degree in chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University in 1942.
He remained with the company for over 34 years, working as a chemical engineer, and following his retirement he remained active in his community and participated in a number of business ventures and partnerships, including those involved in the development of natural resources. He participated in regional and national organizations related to land conservation and was a long time member of the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.
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