​Jack MacDonald Donates $187M Fortune to Charity​​

Jack MacDonald always gave the impression he was poor by living in a retirement community and wearing sweaters with holes as he rose the bus to work, but he left a fortune of $187.6 million to charities after passing away.

Jack MacDonald Fortune

As a result, his wealth is now going to Seattle Children’s Research Institute, University of Washington’s School of Law and the Salvation Army. It is the biggest philanthropic gift in Washington state this year.

MacDonald was born in British Columbia and grew up in Seattle, where he worked as an attorney for the Veterans Administration for three decades.

While 40 percent of his fortune went towards children’s research - and is the biggest donation ever given in the U.S. for pediatric research - he didn’t have any
children of his own.

He married wife Mary, a widow who already had two grown children of her own, in 1971, when he was in his 50s.

Relatives said she opened his eyes to what they could do, and together they traveled throughout Europe and Australia, Canada and Africa. But apart from these trips, they were happy to live simply.

“They were happy the way they were,” Mary’s daughter, Regan Dennis, said. “They were very comfortable, and they had a beautiful garden.”

His wealth was inherited from his parents, who owned MacDonald Meat Co. in Seattle, and he sought to boost the funds by investing their money.

His stepdaughter, Regan Dennis, said he was amazing at knowing where to put his money.

“He didn’t trust a lot of other people to do his research,” she said. “He directed what he wanted [to be] bought, and he really knew what he wanted.”

In the years before his death, he gave smaller donations, such as $536,000 to Children’s, where his mother had previously been a longtime fundraiser.

“I thought of him in many ways as a gentle giant,” Doug Picha, president of the Seattle Children’s Foundation who had known MacDonald for 30 years, told the Times. “He was tall, very shy, very understated, humble. You would never have known that he had great wealth.”

Picha would visit MacDonald and his wife at their retirement community home after they moved there in 1997. Mary died two years later, and MacDonald focused on his stocks - and wearing holey sweaters so no one would know about his wealth, his step-daughter said.