Managing philanthropic investments to improve lives.
The San Antonio Area Foundation began as a tribute to Nat Goldsmith, a unique man who cared deeply for our community. Gregarious and fun-loving, Nat was a well-respected civic leader, beloved and generous friend, talented businessman and devoted father.
When he died in 1963, Nat’s brother, Mannie, challenged Nat’s son, Richard, to find a permanent way to honor Nat. “What our community really needed was a permanent endowment that could fund a variety of causes. I discovered that there were such things. They were called community foundations,” said Richard. He created the Nat Goldsmith Memorial Trust in 1963, leading to the Area Foundation’s establishment in 1964.
From humble beginnings, starting with a $10,000 gift from the Nat Goldsmith Memorial Trust, the San Antonio Area Foundation is now a powerful force for community good. The Area Foundation awarded its first grant of $868 in 1965 and its first scholarship of $100 in 1969 and over $500M since its founding.
The Goldsmith legacy in San Antonio dates to the late 1800’s. Leopold Goldsmith, Nat’s father, moved the family from Pine Bluff, Ark., where he had served as mayor. Nat Goldsmith graduated from Main Avenue High School in 1906 and then started work in the wholesale produce business, supplying groceries (including to the C.C. Butt Grocery Store), hotels and restaurants on a route that stretched to Kerrville and Fredericksburg.
Nat was very active in the Jewish community, but he derived his greatest pleasure from serving the community at large.
He helped create an organization in the 1930s assisting German Jewish refugees in finding work. He became one of the youngest businessmen to serve as president of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. He was also one of the founders of the San Antonio Community Chest, now called the United Way.
After he died in 1963, his brother, Mannie Goldsmith charged his nephew Richard with coming up with a trust that would be a lasting memory. More than 50 years later, the Area Foundation continues to honor the life of Nat Goldsmith.