Howard and Lottie Marcus have given $400 million to Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, it was announced on June 24, the Wall Street Journal reports.
In 1934, after Nazi goons murdered her brother outside their home in Linden, Germany, 17-year-old Lottie persuaded her parents to allow her to go to the U.S. After the election of Hitler in 1933, Howard, a dentist, made his way to Naples, only to find himself in jeopardy again in 1936 when Mussolini agreed to Hitler’s demand that Italy expel all foreign Jews. One of Howard’s patients was the U.S. consul general who helped him reach the U.S. in 1939. Nearly everyone in their families perished in the Holocaust.
Lottie spoke fluent German, French and English, and developed secretarial skills in all three languages which helped her get a job on Wall Street. One day, the Marcuses asked a friend for investment advice, who told them about a student of his at Columbia Business School, a young man he thought a prodigy, Warren Buffett. Their investment grew to many millions, but the Marcuses continued to live modestly and no one who knew them had any idea of the magnitude of their wealth.
The couple decided to give nearly all of their estate to Ben-Gurion University, with a special emphasis on research into improving water management, conservation and irrigation. Howard died in 2014, when he was 104. After Lottie’s death in December 2015, at nearly 100, the gift will now be disbursed. It will more than double the university’s endowment, and will likely turn the school into a global center for water research.
David Steger – Matzav.com Israel / Photo: Dani Machlis