Sol Fingold, a longtime Southern California resident who passed away in 2016, was a charismatic self-made businessman and a passionate supporter of environmental and social causes. While he gave to these causes generously over the course of his lifetime, he also made provisions for these causes in his estate.
Fingold’s foresight enabled him to leave $33 million to several charities, including the National Audubon Society and Audubon California.
“Audubon feels privileged to have known and worked with Sol during his lifetime, as he helped us protect the birds of California and the places they need,” said Sarah Rose, vice president and executive director of Audubon California. “We are so touched that his generous gift will help us continue to protect future generations of birds in California and across the country.”
The ACLU of Southern California, Public Citizen, and Sierra Club Foundation were the other beneficiaries of Fingold’s estate. Audubon’s share of the gift was more than $2.5 million, with the majority of that designated to support conservation programs in California.
In addition to his passion for birds, Fingold enjoyed folk dancing and playing chess. Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1925, he grew up in Canada and New York before being drafted into the United States Army in 1943. He served as a military radio technician during the Second World War.
He laid down roots in Los Angeles after the war, getting a job at the LA County Museum of Art where he started his 25-year career as an electrician, working his way up to earn the position of head of construction and maintenance. Coming from a family who lost everything during the Great Depression, Fingold was determined to leave his mark. He saved his money, spent wisely, and became an independent, successful businessman—while also supporting and advocating for many nonprofit causes that were close to him.
Fingold believed in serving the community. He was an active volunteer throughout his life, including with SEIU Local 660, the Health Systems Agency of LA County, and finally as a member of the California Senior Legislature as a senior assembly member and senior senator.
“Sol planned carefully and made sure that the causes he cared about were taken care of after his passing,” said Janine Kraus, Audubon California’s director of development. “In so doing, he was able to support them in a much greater way than he’d been able to during his life, and create a lasting legacy in his name.”