Herb Sandler, a banker and philanthropist who with his wife, Marion, provided the initial financing for ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative-reporting organization that seeks to be an alternative model for sustaining vigorous journalism, died on Wednesday June 5 2019 at his home in San Francisco. He was 87.
Mr. Sandler and his wife, who died in 2012, made their fortune by building a small bank in Oakland, Calif., into Golden West Financial, a multibillion-dollar lender. When the couple finally sold the operation to Wachovia in 2006 — for a reported $25 billion — they plowed much of their share of proceeds, about $2.4 billion, into the Sandler Foundation, which they had created in 1991.
They had long supported progressive causes when, in 2007, their Sandler Foundation provided almost all of ProPublica’s initial funding. Mr. Sandler was its board chairman from its beginning until 2016.
The Sandler Foundation, which the Sandler family said has given away almost $1 billion, has also supported social justice organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union and Faith in Action.
Herbert Martin Sandler was born on Nov. 16, 1931, in New York City to William and Hilda (Schatten) Sandler. He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan at 15 and from City College of New York in 1951. He earned a law degree at Columbia University in 1954, then spent almost two years in the Army, after which he began practicing law in Manhattan.
In 1960 he met Marion Osher, a banking and finance analyst on Wall Street. They married in 1961 and two years later bought the bank that they renamed Golden West Financial.
Mr. Sandler is survived by a daughter, Susan Sandler; a son, James; and two grandchildren.