News and analysis
December 21, 2015

Gifts Roundup: Cinema Owner Leaves $605 Million to San Antonio Citizens

San Antonio Area Foundation

John Santikos, a San Antonio businessman who died late last year, wanted his $605 million gift to support people in need.

A roundup of notable gifts compiled by The Chronicle:

San Antonio Area Foundation

John Santikos, a San Antonio businessman, left an estimated $605 million to the community foundation to establish the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation.

The donor died late last year. He founded Santikos Theaters, a cinema chain, and owned a commercial real-estate business.

Before he died, he stipulated that he wanted the money to support people in need; youth and education; public libraries, parks, and museums; arts and culture; and health care and medical research primarily in the San Antonio area.

Florida State University

The South Florida-based Jim Moran Foundation has pledged $100 million to establish a school focusing on entrepreneurship. It will be named for Mr. Moran, a nationally known car dealer who died in 2007.

The gift includes a $20 million bequest and $80 million to be paid out over 20 years, university officials said. The entrepreneurship school, set to open in August 2018, will operate independently of Florida State's College of Business. 

The foundation, headed by Mr. Moran's widow, Jan Moran, has invested more than $60 million in education, senior care, and family and youth programs, primarily in South Florida's Broward, Palm Beach, and Duval counties.

University of Miami Health System

Donald Soffer and the Soffer Family gave $25 million through their Soffer Family Foundation to support the university’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute.

The Soffer family founded Turnberry Associates, a real-estate development company. They also own Fontainebleau Resorts.

Massachusetts General Hospital

James and Carol Herscot gave $17.5 million to support the hospital’s Herscot Center for Children and Adults with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.

Mr. Herscot founded Princeton Properties, a real-estate company. The couple’s son has lived with Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, a genetic disorder that can cause neurological complications, for many years.

The center was created in 2005 and named for the couple when the gave $10 million that year.

Virginia Commonwealth University

C. Kenneth Wright gave the university $16 million through his family foundation for a center for clinical and translational research, which will be named for him and his late wife, Dianne.

Of the total given, $12 million will help pay for six professorships in clinical and translational research and $4 million will establish the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Physician-Scientist Scholars program.

Mr. Wright is a retired chairman of the Rent-A-Car Company, an Avis car-rental franchise, which he operated for more than 45 years.

American Civil Liberties Union  

The co-founder of Total Wine & More, David Trone, and his wife, June, donated $15 million to a campaign of the American Civil Liberties Union for criminal-justice reform. 

The donation, one of the largest in the nonprofit’s history, will support a Trone Center for Criminal Justice. Mr. Trone will lead a new private-sector advisory council with the aim of encouraging companies to hire former convicts.

Aspen Institute

Lynda and Stewart Resnick gave $15 million to endow through 2030 the institute’s Aspen Action Forum, an annual event that draws leaders from around the globe to discuss ways of fighting the world’s pressing social issues.

Mr. and Ms. Resnick own the Wonderful Company, a holding company for their POM Wonderful, Fiji Water, and other businesses.

Erie Community Foundation

Thomas Hagen gave $10 million to the foundation to create a donor-advised fund named for his late wife, Susan Hirt Hagen, an heiress who died in June. The money will be used to support a variety of causes in the Erie, Pa., area.

Mr. Hagen is chairman of the Erie Indemnity Company, an auto insurer. The company was started by Ms. Hirt Hagen’s father, Henry Orth Hirt. She controlled the majority of the company’s voting stock when she died.

New York University

Iris Cantor gave $10 million to the university’s Tisch School of the Arts to help build a new theater, which will be named for her.

Ms. Cantor is the widow of Bernie Cantor, who founded the bond-trading firm Cantor Fitzgerald.

Wayne State University

Gretchen Valade pledged $7.5 million to support the university’s programs, teaching, and scholarship in jazz performance and education.

Most of the gift, $5 million, will be used to restore a university theater; the reminder will endow a professorship in jazz studies, as well as scholarships for students pursuing degrees in jazz studies.

The donor inherited the fortune of the Carhartt Clothing, established by her grandfather, Hamilton Carhartt.

Ms. Valade founded the Detroit Jazz Festival Foundation and started Mack Avenue Records.

Lock Haven University

Stephen Poorman, and his wife, Pamela, pledged property and cash totaling $7.1 million to support the university’s College of Business, Information Systems, and Human Services.

Mr. Poorman founded the Poorman Group, a management-consulting firm.

To learn about other big donations, see our database of gifts of $1 million or more, which is updated throughout the week.

Send an email to Maria Di Mento.