Skip to main content
article atm-icon bar bell bio cancel-o cancel ch-icon crisis-color crisis cs-icon doc-icon down-angle down-arrow-o down-triangle download email-small email external facebook googleplus hamburger image-icon info-o info instagram left-angle-o left-angle left-arrow-2 left-arrow linkedin loader menu minus-o pdf-icon pencil photography pinterest play-icon plus-o press right-angle-o right-angle right-arrow-o right-arrow right-diag-arrow rss search tags time twitter up-arrow-o videos

Suggested Content

AmeriCares Mourns the Loss of its Founder, Robert C. (Bob) Macauley

  • December 27, 2010

STAMFORD, CT — AmeriCares, the global health and disaster relief organization, announces the passing of its founder, Robert C. (Bob) Macauley who died peacefully yesterday morning, December 26, 2010, at his home in Florida. He was surrounded by his wife of 45 years, Leila, and members of his family. He was 87 years old.

AmeriCares mourns his loss and celebrates his legacy. Since its founding in 1982, AmeriCares has delivered more than $10 billion in medicines, medical supplies and humanitarian aid around the world and across the United States. Mr. Macauley was the CEO of the organization until 2002 and remained its Chairman until his death. Remembering Bob Macauley, AmeriCares has issued the following statement from President & CEO, Curt Welling:

“We are profoundly saddened by the loss of our founder and great friend, Bob Macauley. While we will miss him greatly, AmeriCares remains focused on his vision of helping many more people live longer, healthier lives. Indeed, we can do him no greater honor than to continue his legacy of caring for people in need. Bob’s unwavering commitment to helping others strengthens our resolve to do what we can to lift up the humanitarian ideal…to invest in people, in their health and well-being and reinforce the belief in our shared humanity. We ask you to join us in celebrating his life and legacy so we can seek a better future: a future that brings health and hope to people in desperate need…one life at a time. The AmeriCares family extends its deepest sympathies to Leila and the Macauley family. We have all been enriched and inspired by Bob. We are honored to have known such a remarkable person – a man who gave proof to the belief that one person can truly make a difference in the lives of others.”

Born on December 11, 1923, in New York City, Mr. Macauley attended Greenwich Country Day School, Andover, and Yale. He interrupted his college education to volunteer for service in World War II, where he served in the Air Transport Command in North Africa. Upon returning to the United States he graduated magna cum laude from Yale (Class of 1945W) with a degree in political science.

Following graduation, he worked in the paper industry with M.L. Macauley and Company, Great Northern Board Sales, and Great Northern Paper Company. In 1972, he founded Virginia Fibre Corporation, and remained Chairman until 1990. He also served on the Board of Directors of Greif Brothers Corporation (now Greif, Inc.), W.R. Grace and Company, as well as an advisor to Christmas in April, the National Executive Service Corps, World Share, and New York Medical College.

As his business career advanced, he increasingly focused on philanthropy. In 1968, he founded the Shoeshine Boys Foundation to support Vietnamese children orphaned by the war. In 1975, as Saigon was falling, he mortgaged his New Canaan home to charter the first jet of what became known as Operation Babylift, rescuing hundreds of orphaned Vietnamese babies who had been injured when a prior chartered jet had crashed.

In 1977, he became involved with his next philanthropic endeavor – Covenant House. With his support and guidance, Covenant House grew from a small outpost in New York City to one of the largest privately-funded childcare agencies in the US.

Through his work with Covenant House, Mr. Macauley met Pope John Paul II, who asked him if he could do something to help Poland, which was in desperate need of medical supplies. Leveraging his business acumen and contacts, he was quickly able to raise $1.5 million in aid for Poland, ultimately sending a total of 38 airlifts. He realized that what he could do for Poland, he could also do for the needy worldwide – and so AmeriCares was born.

Since its founding in 1982, AmeriCares has grown to the largest private health care charity in the world. By leveraging gifts in kind from corporate donors, AmeriCares is able to deliver $35 dollars in life-saving aid for every $1 in cash contributions. To date, AmeriCares has distributed over $10 billion of aid to 147 countries (including the US), with a specialty in disaster relief. As Chairman of the Board, Mr. Macauley has been focused on AmeriCares continuing growth and success for the past 28 years.

For his philanthropic efforts, Mr. Macauley was the recipient of many humanitarian awards, including the President’s Volunteer Action Award, the Cross of Grand Officer of the Order of Malta, the Caring Ward, the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Award, the FREDDIE Award, and the Jefferson Award for Lifetime Achievement, as well as honorary doctorates from Fairfield University, Siena College, Saint Michael’s College, and Saint Lawrence University. He has been featured by ABC News as “Person of the Week,” as well as being the subject of numerous profiles by major media outlets such as NBC Today and People magazine. He is also the subject of a biography entitled “His Name is Today”, by Bill Halamandaris.

Mr. Macauley is survived by his loving wife, Leila; his daughter, Melinda, of San Francisco; his son, Robert, Jr., of Charlotte, Vermont; his stepson, Bart Rice of Kapolei, Hawaii; his sister, Sheila Duncan, of Castellaras, France; his niece, Shayla Wright and grandniece, Karuna, of Nelson, British Columbia; and four grandchildren, Catherine, Noah, Lucianna, and Charlotte.

Memorial services will be held at St. Mark’s Church in New Canaan, Connecticut, on May 14, 2011.

For those who wish to express their love and appreciation for Bob and his humanitarian legacy, contributions may be made to:

88 Hamilton Ave.
Stamford, CT 06902