Richmond, VA

Richmond's Richest Family Has Given Away Millions


Richmond, Virginia is rich with history and it's also rich with one of the wealthiest families in the country. The billion-dollar dynasty of the Gottwald family goes back many years. They are considered the 90th wealthiest family in the U.S. They are worth an astounding 3.1 billion dollars.

About the Gottwald Family

In 1962 Floyd Gottwald executed what was then the largest buyout in history when his much-smaller Albermarle Paper Manufacturing purchased Ethyl Gasoline Corporation for $190 million. The massive risk paid off, eventually turning his descendants into one of the richest families in the country. Gottwald died in 1982, but the Gottwalds still hold stakes in Ethyl, now called NewMarket, and also spinoffs Tredegar Industries, originally the aluminum and plastics division, and Albemarle, the specialty chemicals division. Floyd's son Bruce is chairman of NewMarket, and his grandson Thomas is CEO. Another grandson John served as CEO of Tredegar from 2006 to 2010.

On the senior Gottwald's obituary, the family respectfully requests that in lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the VMI Foundation, The Collegiate Schools, or to a charity of your choice.

The Gottwald family is quite extensive. The obituary states that Floyd is survived by his wife of 17 years, Helga Koch Gottwald. He was the widower of Elisabeth Shelton Gottwald, who died in 2002; and he is survived by their three sons, eight grandchildren, and seven step-great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, Bruce C. Gottwald Sr. (Nancy), of Richmond.


The Gottwald family founded the Herndon Foundation. The Herndon Foundation was established in 1965 by Floyd D. Gottwald Jr. and Elisabeth S. Gottwald. Over the years, the Foundation has supported a variety of local causes and institutions, reflecting the broad charitable interests of its founders.

In 2013, the Herndon Foundation received assets from the Gottwald Foundation, created by Floyd’s parents, Floyd and Anne Gottwald.  With this growth came opportunity. We honed our mission statement and created more specific grant priorities to help guide current and future trustees.

This Gottwald family charity fully funded the Virginia Historical Society entrance reconstruction estimated to cost over 4 million dollars in 2014. This is just one of many of their donations.

The foundation says on its website that it gives priority to needs in the Richmond area but focused on three major philanthropic giving areas:

  • Education – We support strategies that have the most influence on students’ long-term educational advancement and career preparation.
  • Health & Human Services – We seek to ensure that basic human needs are met for our most vulnerable citizens. This includes, but is not limited to, the provision of food, shelter, and health care.
  • Historic Preservation & Cultural Experiences –We believe in increasing access and participation for all citizens to enjoy robust art and culture communities.

The foundation's website also states that the Grants Committee will consider grants for programs, general operating, and limited endowment requests.  However, the Foundation prefers programmatic support when the organization can demonstrate grant dollars will make a substantial difference.

Richmond residents, do you know of the Gottwald family? Let us know in the comments!

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