The estate of Las Vegas philanthropist Charles Tarr has awarded bequests totaling $5.4 million to seventeen nonprofits, including ten in southern Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun reports.
Born in Ukraine, then a part of Russia, a very young Tarr and his family came to the United States in 1917, and he later served as an Air Force pilot during World War II. He and his wife, Lenke, a Hungarian movie actress and Holocaust survivor, met after the war and moved to Las Vegas in 1950, where Tarr started various businesses and worked as a baccarat dealer. He died at the age of 84 on December 31, 1999.
In 2000, the Nevada Community Foundation assumed responsibility for the approximately $2.6 million in the Charles and Lenke N. Tarr Fund and distributed checks of no more than $1,000 to various nonprofits over the next two decades. With the help of the foundation and Tarr's friend, Jerry Engel, who served as trustee of the Tarr estate, an investment strategy was formulated to make a final distribution twenty years after Tarr's death and sunset the fund. Recipients of grants ranging from $227,000 to $455,000 include National Jewish Health, the Down Syndrome Organization of Southern Nevada, Civil Air Patrol – Nellis Senior Squadron, Lilliput Families, the Public Education Foundation, Vegas Fire & Rescue Charitable Association, and ZACHOR Holocaust Remembrance.
"He always felt he owed America a lot," said Engel. "He came here as an immigrant and was proud to be an American and proud to be a Jew."
According to the Las Vegas Sun, Tarr was motivated by a comment his father had made that his brother would be more successful and never took a day of work off. "He lived in a small apartment just for sleeping," his daughter, Barbara Tarr, said in a family video. "His goal was always to prove his father wrong....He arranged the charitable trust for the sole purpose of making the world a better place."
(Photo credit: Charles and Lenke N. Tarr Trust)