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Ventura County Foundation Gets $11-Million Gift

July 18, 2006|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

The late Russell Fischer of Camarillo, a citrus farmer whose family developed Hilltop ranch in the Santa Rosa Valley in the 1930s, has become the single largest benefactor to the Ventura County Community Foundation, with a gift of $11 million.

The gift, announced Monday, will be used to establish endowments to benefit four local charities and a children's home near San Jose. The money, which will be invested, is expected to generate more than $500,000 a year.

Fischer, who died last summer at 93, never married and left no heirs, said Hugh Ralston, foundation president and chief executive.

"This is a tremendous vote of confidence by Mr. Fischer," Ralston said. The gift affirms "the work of the Community Foundation as a careful steward to look after a donor's desires long after they go."

Beneficiaries of the Fischer endowments are: the Camarillo Health Care District, the Camarillo Library, the Ventura County chapter of the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the Odd Fellow-Rebekah Children's Home in Gilroy, southeast of San Jose.

"That's great!" said Camarillo's city librarian, Sandi Banks, when told of the bequest by a reporter.

The money will probably be used to help stock shelves of a new 65,000-square-foot library, to open early next year, that will expand the collection of the county-run library from 120,000 holdings to more than 200,000, Banks said.

The Ventura County Community Foundation was established in 1987 and oversees a family of charitable funds. With more than 400 separate funds and endowments that now exceed $90 million, the foundation expects to give out about $950,000 in college, nursing and vocational scholarships this year, Ralston said.

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