March 27, 2013

Gerry Pratt's contribution

This week is a momentous time here at Meyer. Gerry Pratt – the last remaining trustee who was named in Fred G. Meyer's will establishing a charitable trust from his personal estate – is stepping down from his role as trustee.

Gerry's departure means a thread that connected directly to the man behind the Meyer Memorial Trust is broken. For the first time in Meyer's 31 years, no one on staff or among remaining trustees knew Fred Meyer.

Because he knew Fred Meyer so well, because he spent so much time with him in business and on a personal level, Gerry was able to invoke the spirit of Fred Meyer in our board room on many occasions. Gerry was the one that staff members and other trustees depended on to answer the question, "What would Fred Meyer do?"

Gerry's personal style leads him to request that no event or attention be directed his way as he takes his leave and assumes trustee emeritus status. But we can't in good conscience let this transition pass without acknowledging his indelible mark on Meyer Memorial Trust. All things considered, I would argue that Gerry Pratt has been the single most influential trustee over the life of the Trust.

An accomplished writer, Gerry once described the role of philanthropy this way:

“There is very little the Trust can do to shape society, but it can sometimes point the way by lighting up neglected corners of need. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of making only safe grants, but that really negates the purpose of a foundation. What we do is like a flashlight in a dark room. We can help find the light switch. We are successful when we do that, not by adding light to an already bright room.”

Gerry helped Meyer shine a light on many neglected corners of need in Oregon and Clark County, Washington. We are very grateful for his 31 years of dedicated service and we know that Fred Meyer would be proud of Gerry's enormous contribution.

— Doug