What would you do if you were a multi billionaire and the richest person in Atlanta?
Perhaps by a huge mansion and a luxury car? Well if you are Bernie Marcus you promise to give most of it away.
The richest person in Atlanta
Bernie Marcus was born in 1929, the son of Russian immigrants. He grew up wanting to be a doctor but couldn't afford to attend medical school.
He did study Phamarcy and ended up working at a drugstore but it was in 1978 that an incident changed his life forever. Bernie Marcus and his friend, Arthur Blank were fired from their jobs at a regional hardware store, so they decided to open their own hardware store- Home Depot.
Three years later, along with investor Ken Langone, and the duo took Home Depot public. Now Home Depot is the largest home improvement retailer in the United States.
The business has led to Marcus earning the title of the richest person in Atlanta, with a net worth of $8 billion. And he he promised to give most of it away.
In 2010, Marcus signed the Giving Pledge, a promise to give away the majority of his wealth. He has kept to that pledge and given away over $1 billion so far mainly to education and hospitals. He has also helped veterans overcome their wounds through Operation Share and the Marcus Institute for Brain Health.
He even uses his birthday as a fundraising exercise. When he turned 90 in 2019, he thre a party that raised $117 million to be donated to non profits.
"It has always been my belief that leaving enormous wealth for our children does nothing to stimulate their ability to make it on their own. I too believe that all our efforts in creating the wealth that we have would give us a great deal more joy if we were to disperse as much of it during our lifetimes." Bernie Marcus
Atlanta residents will be familiar with the Georgia Aquarium wich is the largest in the world. The aquarium was able to open in 2005 thanks to a $250 million donation from Marcus. The tourist attraction helped stimulate the downtown Atlanta economy and created new jobs and opportunities for residents.
One cause that Marcus is passionate about is autism. He founded The Marcus Autism Center, a center for providing services for children and adolescents with developmental disabilties and has also donated $25 million to Autism Speaks to help research the causes and find a cure for autism.
"The work we do with hospitals, education, and children through the Marcus Autism Center (MAC), has enabled us to take care of well over 36,000 children since its inception and approximately 4,000 children annually. If it weren’t for the MAC in Georgia there would be nowhere for many of these families to go." Bernie Marcus
It is an inspiring story. From his humble upbringing as the son of immigrants to the richest person in Atlanta to philanthropist.
Readers, what do you think of his story? What other organizations in Atlanta would you like to see him support?
Please leave your comments below.