Ex-Billionaire Charles Feeney Makes $100M Gift to UCSF, Largest Gift by Individual in History of UC System

The Atlantic Philanthropies:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A former billionaire on a mission to give away all his money to charitable causes has donated $100 million to the medical center at the University of California, San Francisco.

The San Francisco Chronicle says the gift announced Wednesday is the largest by an individual in the history of the entire UC system.

The latest donation brings to $394 million the total given to UCSF over the years by Charles Feeney.

Feeney, 83, is a philanthropist who made his fortune by co-founding a company that runs duty-free shops across the world.

The university said the money will be used in part to support the medical students, faculty and new hospitals at its Mission Bay campus and that a good portion of his latest gift will be for research and health care related to aging and neuroscience.

Feeney was worth some $7.5 billion. He has been steadily donating the money to various causes since the 1980s and has said publicly that he expects the foundations he created to run out of money by next year.

Feeney, who was born during the Depression and grew up in a blue-collar Irish Catholic family in Elizabeth, New Jersey, served as a U.S. Air Force radio operator during the Korean War and attended Cornell University on the G.I. Bill.

After graduating, he got his start in the duty-free business by selling liquor to sailors in European ports. With a fellow college alumnus, he founded the Duty Free Shoppers Group in 1960. The company was sold in 1996 to the French luxury company LVMH.

He declined to be interviewed about the gift but said in a statement that he gets "gratification from knowing that my investments in medical research, education and the delivery of health care at UCSF will provide lifelong benefits to millions of people not only in the Bay Area but also around the world.''

"I can't imagine a more effective way to distribute my undeserved wealth,'' he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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