Buck, Beryl H.

Buck, Beryl (Elizabeth) H. (Hamilton)

(1896–1975) philanthropist; born in Minnesota; and Leonard W. (1891–1953) pathologist; born in Vacaville, Calif. Beryl met Leonard at Roosevelt Hospital in Oakland where she was training to be a nurse and he a doctor. They married a year later (1914). Leonard's father died in 1916, and his mother in 1920, leaving the Buck's millionaires with a fortune from oil. They built an estate in Ross (Marin County) (1931), and Leonard, a pathologist, taught at the University of California: San Francisco (1928–51). Leonard died suddenly, leaving all his estate to Beryl. She, in turn, formed the Leonard and Beryl Buck Foundation Trust which, after she died, became part of the San Francisco Foundation, with the stipulation that the money be reserved for Marin County's needy and various nonprofit, educational, religious, and charitable organizations. What was a $15 million bequest became a $253-million trust when the Buck's Beldridge Oil stock was bought by Shell Oil. Attempts by the San Francisco Foundation to spend money outside the already prosperous Marin County resulted in litigation and a court settlement (1986) establishing the Marin Community Foundation (1987), which administers the trust now valued at more than $500 million for Marin County residents.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.