To the editor:
The recent deaths in Kenya of George and Jean Brumley of Atlanta, Ga., along with 10 members of their family, is a tragedy that has affected people and organizations in several international locations in the southeastern U.S., and several communities in North Carolina. Words betray us at a time like this. The scope of the tragedy has brought to many of us a painful reminder of just how fragile life is, how abruptly it can be taken away, and how far-reaching the effects of such a tragedy can be.
As I tried to absorb the terrible news emanating from Kenya, I also read about the lives of these good people, the organizations to which they belonged and that shared in their philanthropic interests.
Having spent the majority of my adult life in the nonprofit sector, which is sustained by philanthropy, I was also struck by the significant generosity and broad philanthropic interests of this family and, by extension, other members who are left to carry on.
My thoughts then expanded to other families and individuals whose philanthropy and generosity over the years have contributed significantly to the quality of life in our nation, our state and in communities large and small. Their names will come quickly to your mind as well.
What binds all of these folks together is, primarily, their personal sense of philanthropy. But it is more than that.
It also includes a desire to share, an interest in improving quality of life, an insightful vision that sees needs that should be met and dreams that should be made real. All of us, of course, have dreams and wishes, but few of us have the vision combined with the resources, to make it all happen.
I was also reminded that the philanthropic interests of the Brumleys and their family are mutually shared with other philanthropists everywhere.
These interests and desires are not something they were compelled or ordered to have, nor was their giving some sort of requirement.
Philanthropic giving is not mandated, not required by law, not forced by any one or any thing.
It is a pure act of free will, exercised with concern, interest, a love of engagement, and the joy in meeting needs and seeing growth and beauty. Wherever we live, we need only to look around and see the results for ourselves.
How fortunate we all are to have had, and continue to have, folks like these to live and work among us and to benefit from their philanthropy and generosity, generation to generation.
— David Setzer, executive director, Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation, Salisbury, N.C.