The super generous Charles Feeney

Published September 14, 2018, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Nelly Favis-Villafuerte
Nelly Favis-Villafuerte


So often said that the measure of life is not its duration but its donation. Especially if we have done something for someone who will never be able to repay us. Let me share with you a story circularized in the Internet about giving. About an anonymous donor who gave Cornell University a $350-million donation to construct a new technology-based satellite campus on Roosevelt Island in New York.

Upon investigation, it was found out that the anonymous donor is Charles “Chuck” Feeney, an Irish-American (with dual citizenship) businessman and philanthropist – founder of The Atlantic Philanthropies, one of the largest private foundations in the world.

Feeney is an alumnus of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. He received the Cornell Icon of Industry Award.

Feeney was born in New Jersey during the Great Depression of blue-collar Irish-American parents who worked hard to provide for the modest lifestyle of their family in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Feeney’s good fortune started in 1960 when he became a co-founder with Robert Warren Miller of the Duty Free Shoppers Group – when the concept of “duty-free shopping” was in its infancy stage. On November 7, 1960, Duty Free Shoppers (DFS) of Feeney and Miller started operations in Hong Kong and later expanded in Europe and other continents. DFS later expanded to off-air duty free stores and large downtown Galleria stores and eventually became the world’s largest travel retailer. In 1966, Feeney’s and Muller’s interests (Miller still retain 31% share of the company) were acquired by Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH), the French luxury goods group, for $1.63 billion. Of his shares of the proceeds of his sale, he set aside $26 million to give to his 2,400 long term staff.

In 1997, Time Magazine said that “Feeney’s beneficence already ranks among the grandest of any living American.” Also in March 2011, Feeney was inducted into Irish American magazine’s Hall of Fame.
Feeney is famous for his “giving while living” approach to philanthropy. His philosophy in life is expressed as follows: “I had one idea that never changed my mind – that you should use your wealth to help people. I try to live a normal life, the way I grew up.”

Feeney, a major donor of Cornell University actually donated over 950 million donation to his alma mater. He has likewise been donating around $1 billion in Ireland, over $220 million to different causes in Vietnam and in other health and social project in other countries as well like Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and South Africa.

Unbelievably, Feeney the super generous man who has been donating billions for health and social projects does not own a car nor a house. He also wears a $15 watch.

Hopefully, this story about Feeney will be a gentle reminder to all of us that giving is something that we should do all the time as part of our existence.

Have a joyful day! (For comments/reactions please send to Ms. Villafuerte’s email: [email protected])