Cecil H. and Ida M. Green are best known for philanthropy. Beginning in 1950 they gave millions of dollars to various institutions and organizations, and by 1988 their donations amounted to more than $150 million. In addition to financial gifts, they served as chairpersons on various fund raising events that helped generate many more millions of dollars from other donors.
The Greens were not always millionaires. They started out on a modest income, and through hard work and perseverance slowly amassed their fortune. In fact, Cecil’s first job out of graduate school paid him $55.00 a week. It was not until he and Ida purchased one fourth interest in Geophysical Services Inc. for $75,000. This would eventually make them millionaires. The remainder of GSI was purchased by three other company employees: Erik Jonsson, Eugene McDermott, and H. Bates Peacock. The four partners’ original investment totaled $300,000. The purchase of GSI was completed two days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Green wanted to pursue government contracts to help the war effort, and this proved to be a very successful endeavor. So successful in fact, that contract work for the government far out paced the work done by GSI. Texas Instruments was formed as a result of this and became the parent company of GSI. On October 1, 1953 Texas Instruments common stock was offered publicly, opening at $5.25 a share. TI stock rose to $210 per share making Green and his partners millionaires. When Ida and Cecil decided to purchase a quarter of GSI, Ida said that if they ever got rich she wanted them to be philanthropists. With the rise in TI stock, Ida’s dream became a reality.
The question was how to effectively donate money to help the maximum number of people. They decided to support education by expanding opportunities for young people who would then be able to help thousands, if not millions of people worldwide. The list of beneficiaries is long. Among them are MIT, where Cecil received his Masters degree in Electrical Engineering; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; and The Scripps Institute. In addition, they helped fund scholarships, endowed university chairs, gave the principal donation to the Salvation Army building in Dallas, and the Dallas YWCA building fund.
In the early 1960s Green, McDermott, and Jonsson established an educational institution to provide post doctorate research and training in engineering and geophysical sciences. This institution was chartered the Graduate Research Center of the Southwest in June 1963. It later became known as the Southwestern Center for Advanced Studies. The three realized that they alone could not provide all the funding needed for the institution to grow. It needed to be a part of a major university system and in 1969 SCAS became The University of Texas at Dallas.
Countless people have been helped through the generous giving of Cecil and Ida Green. The Greens have received numerous, well deserved recognitions for their gifts and support of various organizations and causes, but they did not set out to win awards. Their first and foremost goal was to help improve people’s lives. Helping people directly and indirectly is their ultimate reward.
Sources: Shrock, Robert R. Cecil and Ida Green: Philanthropists Extraordinary. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1989.