Doris Buffett, a self-styled retail philanthropist, who once declared that her billionaire younger brother, Warren Buffett, “loves to make money and I love to give it away,” has passed away at age 92.
When Doris inherited millions in Berkshire Hathaway stock from a family trust in 1996, instead of clinging to it like a security blanket, she dedicated the rest of her life to giving it away—all of it—mostly to individuals in trouble through no fault of their own. She gave away well over $100 million of her own money. She said she wanted to give it all away; that she wanted the last check she wrote to bounce due to “insufficient funds.”
She began the Sunshine Lady Foundation, helping battered women, sick children, and at-risk kids who otherwise would never have had the chance to go to college. She also funded college programs for prison inmates, lowering recidivism. And she did it through “retail philanthropy,” often making personal phone calls to those who needed help, one by one.
Doris shunned what she called “the S.O.B.’s” — symphonies, operas and ballets — and instead concentrated on the underprivileged.
Despite a life filled with negative experiences, Doris kept her heart open, focusing on the needs of others. She’d been knocked down repeatedly, only to get up, brush herself off, and go on. So there was no greater joy for her than knowing she had given someone else a hand up.