Samuel Stroum dies on March 9, 2001

  • By Lee Micklin
  • Posted 3/29/2001
  • Essay 3135
See Additional Media

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.


"Sam Stroum's Seattle," The Seattle Times, March 13, 2001, (; "Patron Samuel Stroum, Known to Many as Godfather of Giving, Dies at 79," The Seattle Times, March 13, 2001, (; Meta Buttnick, "Samuel Stroum: A Man to Be Proud Of," Nizkor, (Summer 2001); "Mentor, Friend: Seattle Jewish Community Mourns the Loss of a Leader," The Transcript March 23, 2001, p 1, 11.
Note: This essay was updated on March 21, 2011.

Licensing: This essay is licensed under a Creative Commons license that encourages reproduction with attribution. Credit should be given to both and to the author, and sources must be included with any reproduction. Click the icon for more info. Please note that this Creative Commons license applies to text only, and not to images. For more information regarding individual photos or images, please contact the source noted in the image credit.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
Major Support for Provided By: The State of Washington | Patsy Bullitt Collins | Paul G. Allen Family Foundation | Museum Of History & Industry | 4Culture (King County Lodging Tax Revenue) | City of Seattle | City of Bellevue | City of Tacoma | King County | The Peach Foundation | Microsoft Corporation, Other Public and Private Sponsors and Visitors Like You