California Pacific Current 2005
Profile in Giving: Ruth B. Fairbairn
Consulting the dictionary for the word philanthropy yields the following definition: “a desire to improve the material, social and spiritual welfare of humanity, especially through charitable activities.” According to Martin Brotman, MD, CEO of California Pacific Medical Center, this definition serves as the perfect description for Ruth Fairbairn, a warm and gracious woman who made several gifts to the Medical Center and Research Institute over the years.
The California Pacific Dialysis Unit bears the name of her late husband, Nathaniel. She also provided funding for Emergency Medicine, the Breast Cancer Recovery Center, the Child Development Center, and for translational research in breast cancer.
Mrs. Fairbairn did not give to receive recognition. Instead, she preferred to remain in the background, where she could observe the results of her generosity to the Medical Center, its staff, and the patients. She was an intelligent philanthropist who had strong beliefs about caring for the ill. At the same time, she maintained an unassuming countenance toward those she helped.
Mrs. Fairbairn has been described as a charming lady of the old school, who wanted to do good for people. And that she has done. Her final donation to the Medical Center of approximately $4.5 million will provide equal endowments for Nursing Education and the Research Institute. For researchers, her gift may provide a “cushion” for the vagaries of extramural funding, a new piece of equipment, or the ability to recruit valued collaborators.
Researchers are grateful to Mrs. Fairbairn, a benefactor who believed in their work and supported their desire to advance knowledge of human biology. The investigators may enjoy her gift a little more knowing that when she wanted to make a donation to California Pacific, she phoned her friend, Dr. Brotman, and invited him over for a root beer float.