SEATTLE, Wash. – Jack MacDonald made an impression for being frugal.
His sweaters had holes in them. He clipped coupons. He was known to walk to the local QFC, and load up on discounted orange juice.
“He liked his free coffee, and liked his privacy,” says Bob Anderson, who runs the Horizon House Senior Living Community on First Hill. Little did Anderson, or even MacDonald’s friends know he had a secret.
MacDonald was loaded.
The quiet man, with a big smile, passed away in September at the age of 98. He left behind a big gift.
On Tuesday, three charities held a joint press conference to announce MacDonald established a $187 million charitable trust for Children’s Hospital, the University of Washington School of Law, and the Salvation Army. It is the single largest charitable gift in the hospital’s 106-year history, and the largest known gift to a US Children’s hospital for pediatric research.
Lorraine Del Prado, of the Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation, says she had contact with MacDonald, and described how he would pass along little notes about their work.
“(He was) always very happy when you see him, had that eternal grin on his face, very modest, very gentle presense, unassuming and did not want to call attention to himself, but always loved hearing news about all the research advances.”
Friends say the donation was a bit of a shock, considering MacDonald’s penchant for penny pinching. He was known to monitor deals for frozen orange juice, and at one point, bought so much he had to have a second freezer to store it all.
But he also stored great wealth, largely from inheriting his parents' fortune from the MacDonald Meat Company. He apparently told close advisors that the charities were important to his parents, and felt it was important to follow their vision.
“God bless him for living that kind of life, and leaving this legacy, this quiet legacy,” said Anderson.
Read the full story from Pediatric Pulse: "A dedication to pediatric research: The man behind the largest charitable gift in Seattle Children's history."