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  • Writer's pictureCharles Cherney

20: Giving While Living - Chuck Feeney

Irish-American Chuck Feeney is an incredible person. Born into a modest family in New Jersey in the Great Depression, he served as a radio operator in the Korean War and then (via the GI Bill) attended Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. He was the first in his family to graduate from college. A serial entrepreneur, Feeney made his fortune as a co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group, which pioneered the concept of duty-free shopping.

And then, beginning in the early 1980s, Chuck Feeney started giving away his fortune. All $8 billion of it. Not $8 million - $8 BILLION - given to health, education, science and other social causes.

And this was no publicity play on Feeney's part. He gave his money away anonymously for as long as possible. And he rarely grants interviews. Clearly, Feeney believes that the last person his charitable giving is about is himself.

Chuck Feeney is in his late 80s now and lives in a simple apartment in San Francisco. No luxuries. No car. Pictures of family and friends printed out on computer paper and hung on the otherwise plain walls.

Chuck Feeney is the best example I know of someone fully committed to giving while living.


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