September 24, 2020
For those of us who, in these extremely dark and difficult times, are search for something — anything — that might lift our spirits, I got something.
89-year-old Chuck Feeney does not own a car. He rents a small apartment. He flies economy class. He only owns one pair of shoes. And he is a billionaire.
Or, more accurately, he WAS a billionaire.
Over the past 39 years, Feeney has given away his entire fortune.
Feeney is the co-founder of the Duty-Free Shoppers Group. In the past 39 years, he has donated $3.7 billion to higher education institutions, including close to $1 billion to Cornell University alone, where he studied for free under the GI Bill after serving in the Air Force during the Korean War. He has also donated $870 million to various human rights groups, and $1.9 billion to fund various projects in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, where he helped found the University of Limerick. This week, his foundation ran out of money.
Says Feeney, “Wealth brings responsibility. People must define themselves, or feel a responsibility to use some of their assets to improve the lives of their fellow humans, or else create intractable problems for future generations.”
Billionaire Warren Buffett says that Feeney is “my hero and Bill Gates’ hero—he should be everybody’s hero.”