A blessing from Prineville to Israel.
A Prineville man’s $3 million estate has been gifted to an organization that helps orphaned children in the Jewish homeland. It comes at a crucial time with conflict raging between Israel and Hamas.
Marvin Harris lived in Prineville for more than 60 years. He made his money operating a large lumber mill and developing real estate.
Harris referred to himself as “the only Jew in Prineville.”
He had no children and left his estate to the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.
“Never heard his name until the day we got the phone call,” said Marc Blattner, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland.
Harris endowed his estate for the express purpose of supporting Israeli children who lose their parents.
Such tragedies are happening during the current hostilities between Israel and Hamas.
“That’s going to spin off $150,000 a year to serve the Jewish community,” Blattner said. “But it was very explicit in the will that the funds would be used for orphans in Israel. That took us aback because who was thinking about orphans in Israel 10 months ago? Sadly, as we are about to receive the funding from the estate, the war has broken out. The conflict has happened. We already know of 101 orphans in Israel since last Saturday and with the Israeli Defense Forces about to enter Gaza, those numbers may grow.”
Blattner calls Harris’s gift “a true blessing…that shows how philanthropic wishes can serve someone’s reality.”
Jim Ledford worked at the COIN woodmill in Prineville when it was owned by Harris.
“I started work up here for Marvin Harris in 1972,” Ledford said.
In those days it employed more than 1,000 people who worked three shifts round the clock.
“He thought a lot about his employees. Put in a softball team and field for them. I was just an employee. I didn’t interact with him a lot but he came on the floor, he talked to the employees. He seemed like a very nice guy,” Ledford said
Harris’ gift is the third largest the Jewish Federation of Portland has ever received.
Because it’s an endowment, the interest on the estate will generate funds for orphaned Israeli children in perpetuity.
“If Marvin Harris who lives in Prineville can do this, I can do this too,” Blattner said. “It can be at any level. It doesn’t have to be a $3 million estate. It can be $5,000. I hope that other people see the example of Marvin Harris. I hope that Marvin is looking down and is feeling very positive about the incredible generosity of what he’s done and the benefits it’s going to provide to people.”
If there’s a lesson from this story, it could be that everybody should have a will. Such a document directs where your estate will go after you pass — to your family or to charities you care about.