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Dick Scaife helped nurture the region he so dearly loved

Remembering Richard Scaife

“I've been here almost 22 years as director, and I was lucky enough to inherit the generosity and friendship that Dick and the Sarah Scaife Foundation displayed to the gallery even before my arrival. He was a founding member of our collectors committee from 1975 to 1977, and the Sarah Scaife Foundation was a major donor to the Patrons Permanent Fund, an endowment fund for art acquisition.

Dick and the foundation are both National Gallery of Art Benefactors, which is our highest level of recognition. They received this recognition in 1993, when the qualifying level of gifts was $1 million or more in money and/or art.

For our 50th anniversary in 1991, he gave the money for us to acquire Albert Bierstadt's ‘Lake Lucerne,' an 1858 oil-on-canvas. A year later, he and several other donors gave funds to acquire John Robert Cozens' ‘Cetara on the Gulf of Salerno,' a 1790 watercolor-over-graphite on woven paper, in honor of Paul Mellon. He cared deeply about his family's legacy. In 1993, shortly after I became friends with him, Dick helped us obtain an 1886 oil-on-canvas painting by William Harnett, ‘The Old Violin,' again in honor of Paul Mellon.

In 2005, he called, very excited; he had discovered an 1829 John James Audobon oil-on-canvas on hardboard, ‘Osprey and Weakfish.' It wasn't something we had asked for; he just called out of the blue and gave it to us. Over the years, he's been a great friend, and the works he acquired (for the gallery) he truly loved.”

— Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art, Washington

“When I graduated from Greensburg Salem High School, I couldn't wait to leave and I couldn't imagine coming back. But as I traveled, I realized we have a special quality of life here. And I longed to be part of it.

Around the same time, the Tribune-Review experienced its own rebirth, as a metropolitan newspaper. The Trib and I took a chance on each other 13 years ago. I have been grateful every day since for the chance to write for the people and region I know. Dick Scaife made that possible by investing in newspapers.

No doubt, Mr. Scaife became known for his libertarian causes. But that linear reputation does no justice to this man's full story. Mr. Scaife gave me and my many enthusiastic colleagues the opportunity to conduct solid reporting — balanced sources, unimpeachable information — without sacred cows or hidden agendas. As others pulled money out of journalism, Mr. Scaife helped us uphold the best traditions of our craft, speaking up for those without a voice and holding power accountable against corruption. He repeatedly supported efforts to expand the public's right to know about its government.

None of this ends now. Mr. Scaife gave us a solid foundation. We built on it, turning the Tribune-Review into the region's largest-circulation newspaper. With the confidence of readers across Western Pennsylvania, we will continue to tell important stories — major international investigations and issues of local community impact.

Mr. Scaife's papers win awards. But more importantly, they make life better, here in our hometown. For that, I'm grateful.”

— Andrew Conte, investigative reporter, Trib Total Media

“My experience with him primarily was in relation to a number of charitable and educational efforts. I first was invited to lunch with him because he wanted to hear about the Extra Mile Education Foundation that was helping to educate children in Pittsburgh. I found that he was a very charming person.

In my meetings with him, we had very good discussions about the whole concept of faith and the role of the church. He had a generous streak when it came to those tragedies that occur from time to time. I recall once one of those great tidal waves had hit in the Far East, and he called and asked how people help people who have been caught in a tsunami. I told him about Catholic Relief Services, and his first question was, ‘How much money gets through to the people?' He was very pragmatic. I said that because the church absorbs most of the overhead, about 94 cents on the dollar goes toward actual relief efforts. He said, ‘Are you sure?' He got back to me and said, ‘My secretary will bring a check down to you tomorrow morning.'

I think what he probably will be remembered for is his philanthropy. He supported a lot of different organizations and causes. Many of them were for political activities, but I think he'll be remembered most for keeping his focus on truly charitable causes.”

— Cardinal Donald Wuerl, former Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh bishop

“Over the course of many years, Dick and I would meet for periodic lunches, always at Pitt. In one sense these were ‘trips down memory lane' because he had not spent much time on campus. … The topics that we discussed were always contemporary and forward-looking. He was interested in a broad range of subjects, and though he had strong views of his own, always seemed respectful of mine.

On occasion, he surprised me. I remember, in particular, his expression of personal respect for Hillary Clinton after she had the courage to meet with the Tribune-Review's editorial board.

He hosted what probably was the fanciest party I ever attended at the site of his family's former home near the Rolling Rock Club. Since the buildings were gone, the celebration took place in a series of huge tents. He was a magnificent host, and the evening underscored that he really enjoyed the company of people. I certainly enjoyed his company and will miss our conversations.”

—Mark Nordenberg, University of Pittsburgh chancellor

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Saturday, July 5, 2014, 9:47 p.m.
 

From his office on the 39th floor of a Pittsburgh skyscraper, Dick Scaife liked to tell people about the impressive view.

“They tell me you can see for 17 miles,” he once told a visitor, pointing up the Allegheny River toward Verona, where his great grandfather, Jeffrey Scaife, put down roots in 1802 with a tin and metal fabricating company.

The William B. Scaife & Sons Co. — later known as the Scaife Co. — continued for well over a century.

In those years and after, the Scaife family's imprint on the region was enormous.

A man devoted to his hometown, Dick Scaife funded high-risk community renewal projects in Manchester, Wilkinsburg, Downtown, the Mexican War Streets and Station Square.

He took a chance on Station Square, putting up $5 million to launch a project that was little more than a dream with no bank financing and no tenants. He would ultimately contribute more than $11 million to the complex.

And Scaife's funding supported scores of civic and cultural organizations, museums and universities in Pittsburgh, including the Alan Magee Scaife Hall at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, the Alan M. Scaife Hall of Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and the Sarah Scaife Gallery, all in Oakland and all named after his parents, who married in 1927.

The story of Dick Scaife's philanthropy began in the 1960s and his reach extended across Western Pennsylvania and the nation, often to those in the most dire circumstances.

His giving touched youth groups in troubled Mon Valley towns and those left jobless by a crumbling economy.

He gave more than $1 million to the City of McKeesport and various organizations there, including $440,000 for an addition to the Boys and Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania and $350,000 the city used to help reduce blight.

A rail buff, he supported the Ligonier Valley Railroad Association and the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, Pa.

And as a dog lover, he gave money to animal rescue groups.

His well-known philanthropic groups — the Allegheny, Sarah Scaife and Carthage foundations — supported a range of projects, from development of the green Mr. Yuk sticker to historic preservation.

Over the years, Scaife became a national figure, contributing to public policy think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and dozens of colleges stretching from Pepperdine University in Southern California to Washington's Georgetown University.

Most often, he shied away from recognition for his efforts.

“Dick has rarely received anything remotely like the credit he is due, principally because he adamantly refused to be acknowledged,” said Frank J. Gaffney Jr., founder and CEO of the Center for Security Policy in honoring Scaife last year.

Giving back to the community is a family tradition.

His sister, Cordelia, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2005, was also a noted philanthropist who supported charities in the region. She gave money to a number of environmental causes as well as Planned Parenthood.

Scaife's two children, Jennie of Palm Beach, Fla., and David of Squirrel Hill, have continued their father's philanthropy, supporting civic causes throughout the nation, carrying on the tradition that grew from their great-great grandfather's small fabricating company along the Allegheny River more than two centuries ago.

 

 
 


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