William R. Hewlett, who co-founded computer giant Hewlett-Packard Co. and, with his partner David Packard, helped to create the lore and culture of Silicon Valley in the process, passed away on January 12 at the age of 87 in Palo Alto, California.
In addition to helping to create one of the world's largest technology companies, Hewlett, who amassed a fortune estimated at $9 billion, was also well-known as a generous and innovative philanthropist.
He and his first wife created the Menlo Park-based William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in 1966. Enriched by a bequest of company shares from Flora Hewlett, who died in 1977, the foundation currently has assets of about $3 billion and donates about $120 million a year to education, the arts, the environment, and other programs.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the foundation will receive the bulk of Hewlett's fortune, making it one of the largest foundations in the United States, with assets of roughly $9 billion.
"It's a huge jump," said Hewlett Foundation president Paul Brest. "It will make us a very large foundation. We have been involved in a very intensive strategy planning process knowing that at some point the foundation would grow."
Brest said preliminary plans for the money include continuing and expanding the foundation's current programs as well as encouraging a new brand of collaborative philanthropy in the Bay Area. The foundation has already helped to fund a recently created philanthropy "incubator" for new donors in Palo Alto.
Along with HP co-founder Packard, whose own family foundation , the Los Altos-based David and Lucile Packard Foundation, has assets of roughly $13 billion, Hewlett is widely credited with creating a model for West Coast philanthropy.
"Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard started the second great revolution in American philanthropy by the establishment of their two sizable foundations," said Kirk Hanson, who teaches ethics and corporate responsibility at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.