I join with the many who are mourning the passing of Marion Sandler. Marion and her husband Herb have been good friends to my family for many years. Herb and Marion founded Golden West Financial, the parent company of World Savings; the The Wall Street Journal called this husband-and-wife partnership “one of the more intriguing – and successful – in American business.” Marion was a pioneer; as a family obituary (on which I’m drawing heavily here) notes, she was one of the first women to lead a Fortune 500 company, and the longest-serving female CEO. She and Herb made Golden West into the second-largest savings and loan in the country. Just as important, the two of them went on to a second career in thoughtful, high leverage philanthropy, investing more than half a billion dollars into good works that have made this country better. They started ProPublica, filling a void left by the decreasing number of resources of responsible news organizations. They helped start the Center for American Progress, a think tank launched by former White House Chief of Staff John Podesta, and on which Marion served on the Board; the Center for Responsible Lending, an organization that protects homeownership and family wealth by working to eliminate abusive financial practices. They also have supported Human Rights Watch, the ACLU, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the American Constitution Society, MDRC, the PICO National Network, the National Center for Youth Law, Oceana, the Public Library of Science, and others.
Beyond a remarkable record of business success and good works, Herb and Marion have been wonderful family friends,who made sure when I moved to the Bay Area that I never lacked for an invitation to a holiday dinner.
My condolences to the wonderful Sandler family. The world is better for Marion’s time here.