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Mega-bequest benefits gay rights, AIDS

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Ric Weiland, one of Microsoft’s first employees, left $65 million to be distributed by the Pride Foundation in the largest bequest ever to support gay rights and HIV/AIDS organizations.

Weiland’s estate establishes a $46 million fund at the Seattle-based Pride Foundation, which will distribute the funds over the next eight years.

The beneficiaries are 10 groups hand-selected by Weiland that serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, or people with HIV/AIDS.

These groups include the American Foundation for AIDS Research; Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; In The Life; the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; Lambda Legal; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Project Inform; and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

Weiland also left $19 million directly to the foundation for its scholarships and grants programs.

A long-time board member and volunteer at the Pride Foundation, Weiland was known as a modest man who shunned public accolades, modesty some say affected his decision to go through the foundation instead of starting his own philanthropic institution.

“Ric gave scores of LGBT groups significant resources to achieve real change during his lifetime,” Urvashi Vaid, executive director of the Arcus Foundation and Weiland’s friend, says in a statement. “He did not seek the spotlight – or even acknowledgement – as he gave away tens of millions of dollars.”

Weiland left the majority of his estate to charity, also including a number of environmental and educational groups in his will.

One of Microsoft’s first employees, he joined the company just after its founding by high school classmates Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Weiland committed suicide in 2006 at age 53.

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