On March 9, 2001, Samuel Stroum (1921-2001), Seattle businessman and philanthropist, passed away after an 11-month battle with pancreatic cancer. Stroum left an immeasurable legacy of endowment and civic patronage, and inspired many other entrepreneurs and business leaders to philanthropy. Gifts from Stroum family foundations benefited more than 300 charitable organizations, and in the 1990s alone totaled over $40 million -- for arts, health, educational, and religious organizations.
Born in Waltham, Massachusetts, on April 14, 1921, Samuel Stroum came to Seattle in 1939 with the Army Air Corps as a flight engineer and crew chief in charge of ferrying Boeing B-17 bombers throughout the nation. He met his wife Althea (Diesenhaus) (1922-2011) at the Jewish USO and they were married in 1942. Stroum's early business venture as an electronics distributor led to the founding of ALMAC/Stroum electronics. In the 1960s he purchased Schuck's Auto Supply and in 1984 sold it to Pay 'n Save for $70 million. Stroum, as a venture capitalist, invested in concerns which have become known as signature Seattle -- biotechnology, Starbucks, the Seahawks, and software (Egghead Discount Software).
Stroum's business ventures fueled his philanthropy. Beneficiary organizations included United Way, the Jewish Federation of Seattle, the University of Washington, Benaroya Hall, the Seattle Art Museum, Medic One, and many hospitals. In 1982, when the Jewish Community Center faced bankruptcy, Stroum led a campaign that brought in $4.2 million in two months, and saved the center from closing. The single largest gift of the Stroum foundations was $10 million to Brandeis University in his hometown of Waltham, Massachusetts.
Stroum served as president of the University of Washington Board of Regents. Other boards he served on included the UW Medical Center, the Seattle Symphony, and SeaFirst Bank. He received honorary degrees from Brandeis, Whitworth College, and Seattle University.
Samuel Stroum was survived by his wife Althea, and daughters Cynthia Stroum and Marsha S. Glazer, siblings Herman Stroum, Joseph Stroum, and Gertrude Bertham and grandchildren Adam, Tamara, and Scott Sloan, and Courtney Stroum Meagher.