Oct. 1, 2018
$33 Million Bequest From California Activist Sol Fingold Benefits Range of Causes
ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the Audubon Society, Public Citizen and Sierra Club Foundation Receive Generous Amounts
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sol Fingold, a dedicated California activist who died in 2016, has given four organizations a total bequest of $33 million to support causes ranging from advancing democracy and increasing the use of renewable energy to preserving civil rights and saving bird habitats.
Fingold, who was 91 when he died, made the gift to the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the Audubon Society, Public Citizen and Sierra Club Foundation.
Fingold’s life was punctuated with varied accomplishments and triumphs over adversity. Coming from a family that lost everything during the depression, Fingold served his country during World War II, worked hard to earn a living as an electrician and supported his fellow workers through union activism.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Fingold grew up in Toronto, Canada, and Buffalo, New York, before being drafted in 1943 into the U.S. Army, where he was trained as a radar repairman and achieved the rank of staff sergeant. His unit received the Meritorious Service Unit plaque for its devotion to duty and resourcefulness in supplying and servicing the 506th Fighter Group and maintaining North Airfield, Iwo Jima.
After his discharge in 1946, Fingold settled in Los Angeles. He worked as an electrical inspector for the city of Los Angeles, taught in the LA County Electrical Apprenticeship & Journeyman Training Program and worked with a variety of contractors as an electrician, foreman and general foreman.
Fingold had many interests, including chess and folk dancing. In 1967, he joined the staff of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as an electrician, rising through the ranks and retiring 26 years later. Following the advice of a family member, Fingold invested in real estate in Los Angeles, which enabled him to build his fortune. Even after achieving financial success, though, Fingold thought of himself as a Beverly Hills farmer with a knack for growing bananas, lemons and persimmons.
Fingold remained active in political causes after retirement. He volunteered for numerous organizations including SEIU Local 660, the Health Systems Agency of LA County and Retired Employees of Los Angeles County, and as a member of the California Senior Legislature.
“Throughout his life, Sol was strongly committed to supporting causes that were important to him,” said Robert Weissman, Public Citizen president. “Public Citizen is grateful to Sol for his unflagging commitment and incredible generosity. Given the challenges facing our democracy right now, we need this gift more than ever to continue our valuable work.”
“Audubon feels privileged to have known and worked with Sol during his lifetime, as he helped us protect the birds of California and the places they need,” said Sarah Rose, vice president and executive director of Audubon California. “We are so touched that his generous gift will help us continue to protect future generations of birds in California and across the country.”
“Sierra Club Foundation is grateful for this incredible environmental legacy created by Sol Fingold,” said Executive Director Dan Chu. “Sol was a member and supporter of Sierra Club for over half a century. Now, more than ever, Sol’s generosity is critical in giving us the resources to protect our planet and our communities.”