One of Microsoft’s first employees has left $46-million to LGBT and HIV/AIDS organisations in the US after committing suicide.
The openly gay former Microsoft executive and long-time supporter of LGBT groups, Ric Weiland – who took his own life in 2006 at the age of 53 – left a $65 million fund that will be disbursed to 11 organisations. The details of his bequeath have only just come to light.
It is believed that this is largest ever such donation to LGBT groups. Each organisation will receive specific amounts from the fund over the course of eight years. The fund will be administered by the Pride Foundation in Seattle.
“Ric’s generous bequest is the largest in the more than 22 year history of GLAAD and presents significant opportunities to GLAAD and to the movement,” said Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) President Neil G. Giuliano.
In statement on its website, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) thanked Weiland for his unexpected funding.
“There is no individual in the world who has given as generously to the goal of global equality for LGBTI people as Ric Weiland. The lives and work of LGBTI activists in Kenya, Thailand, Chile, China and elsewhere around the world will benefit from Ric’s generosity to IGLHRC, and we are truly honoured,” wrote Paula L. Ettelbrick, IGLHRC Executive Director.
Weiland, who was friends with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was hired shortly after Allen and Bill Gates founded the company in 1975. As one of only five employees, he was a lead programmer and developer for the company’s BASIC and COBOL language systems, two of the first personal computing interfaces.
He left the company in 1988; a wealthy man thanks to his shares in Microsoft. Weiland was reported to have suffered from clinical depression and died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on 24 June 2006.
While he did not seek recognition for his philanthropy, it is estimated that during his life he contributed around $30 million to over 50 organisations – excluding the most recent donation.
Other organisations that will benefit from Weiland’s fund include amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research; Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN); In The Life; Lambda Legal; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG); Project Inform; and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.