The richest person in Vermont is giving away millions

Ash Jurberg

I write many articles about successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, but the one thing that readers always want to know is what these wealthy people do to give back to the community.

Today, I thought we would take a quick look at the richest person in Vermont and his charitable efforts.

The richest person in Vermont

The richest person in Vermont is John Abele.

Abele was born in Connecticut in 1937. When he was just seven years old, Abele was stricken with osteomyelitis, a bacterial infection of the bone. As a result, he had multiple surgeries and was forced to use crutches for years. However, Abele recovered and went to Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he graduated with a double major in physics and philosophy in 1959.

In 1979 he founded Boston Scientific, a manufacturer of medical devices. Now the company offers more than 13,000 products affecting the health and lives of over 26 million people each year across 100 countries. Last year the company had an operating income of $1.2 billion.

The success of his business had led to a vast fortune and the title of the richest person in Vermont. And so, when he retired in 2005, he decided to focus on philanthropy.

Philanthropy

In 1997 Abele established the Argosy Foundation, but when he retired in 2005, he decided to focus even more on philanthropy.

The foundation's mission is "to support people and programs that make our society a better place to live. We seek to employ creative and entrepreneurial approaches that help people to help themselves and become self-sustaining whenever possible. Our intention is to solve systemic problems, build teams and communities, create replicable solutions, and inspire others to contribute in their own ways."

Through the foundation, Abele and his family have given well over $100 million in grants to nonprofits, and he expects another $300 million to be awarded in the future.

If you have been put in that position where you have a lot of resources -- notice I’m not saying “money” -- money is part of it, but it’s connections. It’s experience. It’s relationships. We’re stewards of that resource, and our job is to invest it in ways that bring the greatest value to the particular community we’re trying to help. John Abele

Abele also gives to many projects in Vermont, particularly environmental projects.

Readers, what do you think of Abele's story? What organizations in Vermont would you like to see him support?

Please leave your comments below.

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