‘Chuck Feeney Is a Hero’

Bill Gates
BILL GATES, Co-Chair, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Chuck Feeney is a hero. He probably wouldn’t like that characterization very much. But his modest manner and thoughtful embrace of philanthropy make him a figure that everyone can learn from. I certainly have.

In the early 1970s, Chuck read Andrew Carnegie’s essay on wealth, which said surplus wealth should provide “ladders upon which the aspiring can rise.” Not only did he become a convert, but he became one of the great philanthropists of our age, just as Mr. Carnegie had done in his.

In the early 1980s, Chuck and his family began to sell most of his immensely successful businesses and to focus on smart and compassionate investments around the world in health, education, and peace and reconciliation, among other fields.

Chuck made a living by building things, but his passion is cultivating opportunity. As he noted at our first meeting of the Giving Pledge, “Good buildings for good minds can make the difference in the lives of a lot of people.”

Chuck is unassuming, and initially he was most comfortable with giving anonymously. But his decision to become public with his giving has transformed philanthropy and most certainly inspired many others to get involved. Chuck’s longstanding commitment to Giving While Living has been a guidepost for Melinda and me. Chuck has been a beacon to us for many years; he was living the Giving Pledge long before we launched it.

By quiet example, Chuck has been an icon of global philanthropy, and he has changed the philanthropic landscape. He is the consummate builder and giver. Chuck reminds us all of the importance of living our lives in service to others.

— BILL GATES, Co-Chair, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation