Recently I have been writing articles on billionaires who are supporting their local communities. Today it is time to look at the Jacksonville billionaire who is giving away millions to organizations in the state.
The Jacksonville billionaire
Weaver, who has a net worth of $1.2 billion, has an inspirational story. He grew up in public housing, didn't attend college, and was married at 20.
Together with his new wife, Delores, they set a goal to make a combined income of $10,000 a year. They are still together more than sixty years later, and it is fair to say they have greatly exceeded their initial goal.
Weaver was born in Columbus, Georgia, and started his career as a shoe salesman, and his hard work saw him slowly work his way up the corporate ladder. He ended up at Nine West and eventually became CEO in 1978.
At the same time, he purchased a 29% share in the shoe retailer Shoe Carnival, leading to his immense fortune. He is still the chairman of Shoe Carnival.
Weaver also was the first owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team before selling his stake to Shahid Khan in 2011 for $770 million.
While all this is impressive, in my opinion, a person should be judged by what they give back to their local community. And the Weavers are certainly active philanthropists.
In 2014, they donated all the funds- $4.7 million- from the sale of their 14,000-square foot home along the St. Johns River.
“This home holds a special place in our heart, as does Jacksonville. In giving this property to The Community Foundation, and hopefully establishing an endowed fund for the buyer, many deserving nonprofits and those they serve will benefit.” Dolores Barr Weaver
Other major donations include:
- Provided $7 million to help the Mayo Clinic construct a new 9,600-square-foot facility in Florida
- A $10 million donation to Baptist Health for children’s behavioral health programs - at the time, this was the largest cash gift in Baptist history.
- $6.6 million to found the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center. The center, based in Jacksonville, is now a national leader in advocating for the rights of at-risk girls and young women.
- They have donated $15 million to community causes through the Jaguars Foundation.
- Since 2007, they have given an estimated $135 million to The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.
Nina Waters, executive director of the PACE Center for Girls in Jacksonville, best summed up their charity.
“My reaction to both was that they were extremely committed to Jacksonville. For all of the good that having an NFL team has done for our community, it pales in comparison to what the Weavers’ philanthropy has done to grow the philanthropic spirit in our region. They have established permanent endowments for 33 nonprofit organizations.”
The Weavers certainly haven't forgotten their humble beginnings and are doing what they can to help others.
Readers, what do you think of their story? And what other Jacksonville organizations would you like to see them support?
Please leave your comments below.