Billionaire made it his purpose to give away his fortune before he died

Photo of Chuck Feeney first appeared in Faithpot.

Charles “Chuck” Feeney may have been a billionaire before he died Oct. 8 at the age of 92, but how his life ended forged a legacy that will outlive him for generations.

Growing up in the poverty which defined the Great Depression, Chuck credited his Irish-American parents for instilling a work ethic that served him well all his life.

He founded Duty Free Shoppers, a firm which helped Chuck amass a fortune of $8 billion by selling luxury products in duty free shops at airports, cruise terminals and malls around the globe.

Yet, by the time he died, Chuck had donated his entire fortune, often anonymously, through Atlantic Philanthropies, a private charitable foundation he established in 1982.

In fact, two years after forming the foundation, Chuck transferred his entire stake in Duty Free Shoppers to the non-profit. Not even his business partners knew he no longer owned any part of the firm he started, according to Wikipedia.

Chuck was an early signer of The Giving Pledge, a commitment launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet to encourage the world’s billionaires to contribute most of their wealth to various causes.

In a letter to Gates and Buffet, Chuck wrote, “I cannot think of a more personally rewarding and appropriate use of wealth than to give while one is living — to personally devote oneself to meaningful efforts to improve the human condition.

“More importantly, today’s needs are so great and varied that intelligent philanthropic support and positive interventions can have greater value and impact today than if they are delayed when the needs are greater,” Chuck added.

Chuck died Oct. 9 of this year. In honoring him, Gates called Chuck, “the ultimate example of giving while living.” And give he did.

According to Faithpot, Chuck’s $8 billion donation supported causes across the globe and touched lives in the United States, The Republic of Ireland, Britain, Northern Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Viet Nam, Bermuda, and Cuba.

“It’s much more fun to give while you are alive than to give when you are dead,” Chuck proclaimed during a 2021 interview.