To most people, the word legacy means leaving behind something of themselves. But what does that really mean? Money in the bank? A house? An album full of pictures? A valuable memento with family history?
The late Greg Hind’s legacies left the communities he loved better than they were when he arrived.
Hind, an All-American water polo athlete who made his fortune in the sportswear industry and was San Luis Obispo’s 2010 Citizen of the Year, died Oct. 31 at the all-too young age of 66, after battling leukemia.
He left a mourning family and a community in shock and pain.
But oh, the legacies the noted philanthropist left for us all, through his personal commitment to give back and his modest, self-effacing persona.
In recent years, I talked to the soft-spoken, self-effacing Greg many times, usually about his foundation’s donations to this local cause or that one. He was always charming and caring.
Greg always emphasized how impressed he was by Cambrians’ oh-so-high level of dedication and how committed they were to getting “it” done, whatever “it” was at the time.
Cambria is a community of doers. When times are tough, we help each other. When something important needs doing, even when it seems totally out of reach, we band together, set our stubbornness and determination meters on “high,” and do it, somehow.
Greg Hind’s legacies have helped us do just that.
He joined so many North Coast causes, from restoring the Guthrie Bianchini house and garden (now the Cambria Historical Museum), the Greenspace Chinese Temple and the Fog Signal Building at the Piedras Blancas Light Station to challenging other donors to match his $140,000 gift to make sure there would be a new Cambria library. And so they did.
Greg and Jane Hind’s foundation grants cover this county and beyond. In recent years, the donations stretched from Santa Barbara to Pigeon Point Light Station, about 35 miles north of Santa Cruz.
Other recipients range from Woods Humane Society (installing a new commercial laundry center) and the War Birds Museum to a ballet master class, honoring veterans, restoring a 1923 Seagrave fire engine and a blue whale skeleton and propagating milkweed for migrating Monarch butterflies, along with many other projects benefiting people, animals, the arts, gardens, the environment, history and more.
Legacies, every one.
In various emails to me and Facebook postings, people shared their acute sense of loss:
Carole Adams, national award-winning volunteer for Piedras Blancas Light Station, “I will remember Greg Hind as a gentle and generous man. He made the world a better place. He was an excellent role model for young people, or people of any age, contemplating how to live their lives. I will also remember his easy smile. Greg will be missed by everyone whose lives he touched, and he touched more lives than he could ever know.”
Jim Boucher, site manager for the Bureau of Land Management, Piedras Blancas Light Station, “The lighthouse stations of the Central Coast of California would not be in the proud condition they are today without the support and generosity of Mr. Hind. His contributions have insured that these heritage sites will be preserved for this and future generations.”
Jeri Farrell, president of Friends of the Cambria Library, described Hind as a “kind of a salt-of-the-earth type, no pretention at all. Just a very nice person, and he sure gave back, didn’t he?”
She believes Hind’s challenge-grant donation of $140,000 “was the incentive that caused people to contribute that last amount we needed. It got us where we are,” with enough money to fulfill Friends’ contract with the county and build Cambria’s new library.
Mary Webb, vice president of Greenspace — The Cambria Land Trust. “I am shocked and so sad … We all owe so much to Greg Hind and the Hind family for so many contributions to civil society, the arts, cultural heritage sites, environmental organizations and furthering science in so many areas.”
Richard Hawley, executive director of Greenspace. “Not only was Greg a philanthropist, but he was the sort of guy one could just hang out with and talk about steelhead trout and native plants, a salt-of-the-earth human being with great insight into what was important in building strong and vibrant communities.”
Nick Franco, superintendent of the San Luis Obispo Coast District of State Parks, said Hind “has been such a big supporter of many park activities throughout the years. And he was such a great guy. What a loss to us all.”
Well done, Greg. While most of us leave some sort of legacy for our own children and (if we’re lucky) our hometowns, how wonderful it was for you and Jane to present your legacies to our hometowns, for the future of everybody’s children and the environment.
Cambrian and Tribune reporter Kathe Tanner's "Slice of Life" column is published bi-weekly. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.