F.M. Kirby II: 1919-2011
For over 40 years, Fred Morgan Kirby II carried forth the conservative values of his grandfather and father in both his personal life and through the philanthropic mission of the F.M. Kirby Foundation. His leadership at the Foundation expanded support to non-profit organizations in education (including his beloved Lafayette College and Lawrenceville School), the arts and humanities, civic and public affairs, and human services, among others. Most notably, he initiated the Foundation’s support of basic medical research and was willing to take a risk on young scientists and investigative entrepreneurs engaged in daring pursuits at world-class institutions and laboratories, including the F.M. Kirby Center at Rockefeller University and the F.M. Kirby Center for Molecular Ophthalmology at Scheie Eye Institute.
While he understood the importance of medical research, he was equally astute in addressing the less theoretical challenges that affect our everyday quality of life. F.M. Kirby understood the importance of organ donor awareness; recidivism among ex-offenders; nursing shortages in hospitals; the impact of overpopulation; smoking cessation; a healthy environment; protecting property rights; supporting individual rights; and promoting school choice. Before it was popular, his philanthropy was about providing "winners" with consistent operating support over the long term. Some call this capacity building; F.M. Kirby deemed it practical.
During the 43 years of F.M. Kirby's presidency, the Foundation's portfolio grew from $15 million to a peak of over $500 million, while also distributing more than $440 million during his tenure. F.M. Kirby worked tirelessly for the Foundation, often on weekends, and strictly as a volunteer. He never looked for glory nor was recognition a condition of support; rather, he lived the family motto: "Facta Non Verba" (Deeds not Words).