Tuesday, March 13, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Sam Stroum's Seattle

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Samuel Stroum's commitment to the city he loved was among his most successful and enduring investments. Seattle civic life blossomed with the generosity and leadership of the retired businessman and philanthropist who died Friday at 79.

A marvel of Stroum's life was his proximity to the business and social icons that make Seattle a part of the 21st-century lexicon.

The Army Air Corps brought him to Seattle, from which he ferried Boeing B-17 bombers during World War II. He lived at the Sorrento Hotel with the other air crews, and eventually met Althea, his future bride and wife of 58 years, at the Jewish USO.

After the war, Stroum worked for others, but not for long. He was busy forming companies to distribute electronics and auto parts. Those affiliations led to his purchase of popular Schuck's Auto Supply. Stroum was an early investor in the region's budding high-tech industry, Seattle's signature love affair with coffee and the Seahawks professional football team.

He made money and started to give it away with his first major grant of $600,000 to the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. His generosity and charitable work only picked up speed.

Stroum served on the Seattle Symphony Board, the University of Washington Medical Center Board and the UW Board of Regents. He was a patron of the arts, the needy, medical research and Husky football. He made United Way fashionable with millionaires.

Stroum helped build, endow and guide much of what is lasting and praiseworthy in the community. His work inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs to embrace philanthropy.

Stroum's legacy is interwoven with the city he loved for the past half century.


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