Wherever Leila Gompertz went, she shared the beauty of philanthropy.
Like the pool at Seaplace condominium, where she and her husband, Michael, moved in 1977.
“She would go around the pool, meeting people and getting them involved in the Community Foundation or the Red Cross,” said Tana Sandefur, a former Seaplace resident and one of Gompertz’s early recruits for the Community Foundation.
Gompertz, whose support helped organizations like the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Planned Parenthood of Sarasota, and Florida Studio Theatre to grow, died Oct. 5. She was 96.
A former Longboat Key resident, she moved to Sarasota Bay Club in 2004 and remained active despite suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Born Aug. 5, 1919, in New Haven, Conn., she went to Wellesley College at age 16 and earned a master’s in mathematics from Columbia University. She then lived in Washington, D.C., and worked for the Social Security Administration.
Mrs. Gompertz returned to New Haven to have her son, Steven, in 1945. She worked for her husband, Mike, in the Gompertz printing business.
The couple retired in 1977 and moved to Seaplace.
Mrs. Gompertz helped to found the Community Foundation of Sarasota County in 1980 and spent the next 18 years seeing it grow to its current size and fundraising for the organization. She donated money for the land for the foundation’s headquarters and later doubled her contribution toward a building so that it could be constructed without debt.
“Leila just loved the gift of giving and wanted to let people know that the Community Foundation was there to do that,” said Tom Waters, former vice president of charitable planning for the Community Foundation. “We really just had the opportunity to connect people with where their heart was.”
She also donated money for Planned Parenthood to build its local headquarters and for Florida Studio Theatre to purchase the old Theatre Works building.
She received the award of Philanthropist of the Year from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
“She had a sense of dedication all her life, because she had more money and more time than other people that she owed it back to the community,” her son, Steven Gompertz, said.
Mrs. Gompertz is survived by her son, Steven, and his partner, Deborah Fitzgerald, and four cousins.
A celebration of life will take place in early December.
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