July 16th, 2010
10:22 AM ET

Friday's intriguing people

Paul AllenPaul Allen

The Microsoft Corp. co-founder has pledged to give away most of his fortune to charity. "[M]y philanthropic efforts will continue after my lifetime," Allen said in a statement Thursday. "I've planned for many years now that the majority of my estate will be left to philanthropy."

Allen's commitment comes as two of America's richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, have invited fellow billionaires to give half their wealth to charity. The unusual initiative is being promoted through the website GivingPledge.org and is aimed at members of the Forbes 400, a list of the richest Americans.

Allen has donated more than $1 billion through personal giving and his foundation. The 57-year-old billionaire was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in November 2009, more than 25 years after he was treated for Hodgkin's disease, a spokesman at his company Vulcan Inc. said at the time.

Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Gates in the mid-1970s, was that company's chief technologist until he left in 1983, the year he was treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma, according to the website for his Paul G. Allen Family Foundations. In March, Allen ranked 37th on the Forbes list of the world's billionaires. His net worth was $13.5 billion, according to the magazine.

Allen once said, "When it comes to helping out, I don't believe in doing it for the media attention. My goal is to support the organizations that need help."

CNN: Microsoft co-founder pledges to donate majority of fortune

The Giving Pledge

Nelson Mandela

The Nobel Peace Prize winner turns 92 on Sunday and is scheduled to publish a new autobiography this October. According to publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, "Conversations With Myself " will draw upon Mandela’s personal archive of never-before-seen materials, including journals he kept while on the run during the anti-apartheid struggle of the early 1960s, diaries and draft letters written at Robben Island and other South African prisons during his 27 years of incarceration, and his notebooks and privately recorded conversations.

DanceWithShadows.com reports that Verne Harris, director of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, said that the book will depict the leader "not as a saint or an icon, but as a person." President Obama has written the book’s forward.

Mandela was released from prison in 1990, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 and was inaugurated as the first democratically elected president of South Africa in 1994.

Macmillan.com preview: 'Conversations With Myself'

DanceWithShadows.com: Nelson Mandela’s Conversations With Myself releases October 12

Nelson Mandela Foundation

Tom Russell

The Texas Board of Regents voted unanimously Thursday to change the name of Simkins Residence Hall, a University of Texas at Austin dormitory named after a man prominent in the Ku Klux Klan in the 1800s. "Creekside Residence Hall and Creekside Park will replace the current names of Simkins Hall and Simkins Park, respectively," officials with the University of Texas System announced in a statement.

The dorm was built in the 1950s and named for William Stewart Simkins, who taught at the University of Texas at Austin's law school from 1899 until his death in 1929. Earlier this year, Russell, a former University of Texas law professor, published a research article on Simkins.

Russell told CNN on Thursday that Simkins "was a gun-toting, mask-wearing nightrider, and his fellow Klansman who murdered 25 people during a three-year period in just one of the counties in Florida in which he operated."

Russell said university officials named the dorm for the Klan member shortly after the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision that integrated schools. Russell, now teaching at the University of Denver, wrote in his paper that "during the 1950s, the memory and history of Professor Simkins supported the university's resistance to integration."

Russell said he didn’t expect the university to make the name change. "I did hope to provoke a conversation about race, history and law. That’s been successful beyond my wildest dreams."

CNN: Board votes to change name of UT dorm named for Klan member


Mary Price Walls

The retired janitor will receive an honorary degree on July 30 from Missouri State University in Springfield, the hometown college that denied her admission in the summer of 1950.

USA Today reports that Walls, a high school salutatorian, was the first African-American student ever to apply to what was then known as Southwest Missouri State University. But, according to university records, the school was uncomfortable at that time becoming a "guinea pig" in a situation involving equal educational opportunities. Walls told the newspaper that she wanted to become a teacher.

She eventually had eight children, 12 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Sixty years later, the 78-year-old said she’s not sure what she’ll do with the college degree. "To me, it would be an inspiration to my children. They have been raised in a better world," she told the paper.

According to Missouri State, the school’s increasingly diverse student body now includes 616 African-American students.

USA Today: College to honor first black applicant 60 years later

Missouri State University: Missouri State to fulfill Mary Jean (Price) Walls’ dream of a degree

Angie Brouhard

The 42-year-old breast cancer survivor from Springfield, Ohio, plans to celebrate her 18th wedding anniversary this Sunday by crossing the Nautica New York City Triathlon finish line.

Since January, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and the producers of CNN Medical News have been working with six people who took the Fit Nation Challenge to participate with Gupta in this weekend’s triathlon. So Brouhard has spent the last six months swimming, biking and running.

Brouhard learned she had breast cancer in April 2009. After various treatments, medications and surgeries, the mother of three children said that the cancer was gone, but it left her out of shape and uninspired. Her husband found an ad for the Fit Nation Challenge, and they both thought it was a perfect fit.

Brouhard said the triathlon was not only her motivation to get back in shape, but a way for her to set an example for all women who have faced breast cancer and other illnesses.

"I hope that I can be an inspiration to others," Brouhard said. "I think it will be such a feeling of satisfaction for myself to complete this, knowing I can put the cancer behind me. I think it will be an emotional day."

CNN: Fit Nation

soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. wondering

    Maybe he could finance some serious anget management classes for a majority of the posters? I think it would be quite helpful!

    July 16, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sheila

    Why do these billionaires think that giving half their fortunes to these charities is better for society than placing the money into fruitful ventures, bonds, or even the stock market? It is not. Studies have shown the benefit from great wealth is magnified when that wealth is used productively. Just $1 billion dollars earns over $50 million a year in interest in today's corporate bond market. KEEP THE MONEY and donate the interest in a trust fund, like the Kennedy Trust Fund. This helps the economy by stabilizing the marketplace and creates thousands of permanent, high-paying jobs as well. Giving the money outright to charities has none of these benefits.

    July 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bob


    I have had dinner with him at the table, and talked to him after dinner privately, He is an ass, and he is cheap, he is a waste of space, do not ever try or go into business with him, you will be sure to get jerked around or burned, if I was as rich as him I would have tried to make other rich instead of hoarding all of my money, and charity ???? what to help out people that are going to die anyway ? what about making a difference in the lives of people like myself that strived to become wealthy and help others to become rich ??? I have no love for this ass, he should have died long ago instead of causing kaos and grief in other peoples lives,

    July 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chooch0253

      Apparently you were not able to convince him that you were worth a flip or con him. Small wonder given your transparent projection of self importance and delusions of granduer.

      July 16, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bob

    he can definetly ff up a wet dream,

    July 16, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob


      no you are dead wrong, the movie he passed on did very well, the problem is that his bogus company vulcan ventures will not spend anymore than 1MM to make a movie, now how can you make a 25MM film on 1MM ???? you tell me, ....

      July 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mrs. Phil Anthropy (Julie)

    My dream has always been to be able to afford to go to college-education is never a waste of money, right? That would be a nice legacy to leave!
    Please make check out to : "college in Md."
    Thank you !

    July 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rick McDaniel

    Charity? The proof is in the details, now isn't it?

    July 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Arlene

    Wow! This man of such privilege is willing "WILLING" to do great things with his fortune and 90% of the comments on here are so negative. It amazes me to see how ungrateful so many are and continue to be. No man can save the world, the man can fix everything that is broken, and everyone in life has a choice. This man has made the CHOICE, to CONTRIBUTE in fixing one of the MANY problems in the WORLD today. If we had more people like him and less people like you all, this world would be a better place. I'm not talking status wise, rich with money, I'm talking character wise. I was in such disbelief and that's the only reason I read all of your comments. Hopefully, if you all have children, you'll deliver the message of "Helping in any way/shape/ or form is better than not helping at all". Any good hearted person like myself can clearly see all of you being so negative about this gift Allen is giving to the people, are very unhappy and ungrateful in life. I will pray for all of you and pray you find happiness and comfort in what you do have versus what you don't have, I pray you appreciate goodness in people, and I pray that you will start having a relationship with God.

    July 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      Arlene, character does not pay the rent, bills or food, a great education, a big break, an angel investor does,

      if I had 16 billion, I would put aside 15 billion of it and make sure that individuals get law degrees, business degrees, film degrees, I would invest at least a billion in movies that way giving thousands jobs that they do not currently have, that way I would turn 15 billion into trillions over a lifetime,

      I would not try to help out sniviling arrogant doctors try to find cures for cancer, aids, or find a way to stop disasters, 15 billion is not enough, you need trillions to make a difference at that magnitude, if any of his relatives called me up for a break in the movie biz I would tell them to take a hike,

      July 16, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Yvette

    It would be great if all these rich people stop giving their money away to charity and invest all of it into the education of kids. America's schools are in real trouble. Money is needed there, and not for BS raises where principals six figures and teachers get a pittance. If they invest in the kids and help them develop strong minds then their money will give them returns for 80+ years. With all that money floating around we should be able to turn out quite a few Bill Gates who can then give their money to education and continue the trend. Then maybe we won't have to look at Asia and wonder why they are turning out brillance regularly while we sadly lag behind.

    July 16, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
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