Gloria Pashby. Photo courtesy of Sheri Dizon.
Gloria Pashby never held an elected office, never ran a Silicon Valley company and never donated millions of dollars to charity. Yet when she died in 2001 at age 65, her funeral at the 500-seat St. Lawrence the Martyr church in Santa Clara, California, was standing room only.
“She had quite a knack with people,” recalls Gene Pashby, her still sharp, 90-year-old husband. “The pastor told me when she died it was, somehow or another, the biggest funeral he had ever conducted.”
Gloria was one of those radiant people toward whom others gravitate. Like the countless friends of her kids who constantly filled the small house Gene built out as their seven children grew. Like the staff at Agnew’s Developmental Center, where she brought her kids to visit the mentally ill and developmentally disabled patients, before it closed in 1998. Like the staff of Wilcox High School where she was a cook—the kind who didn’t always follow the school recipes and who would give take-home bags to those she liked. (And she liked everybody.)
“She wasn’t famous, but people always wanted to be around her,” said Sheri Dizon, her eldest daughter.
Her legacy lives on in the Pashby Family Foundation, which her children created to honor her memory and her innate drive to give back; a drive she passed on to her children, 23 grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren.
“It makes me proud that the kids wanted to do this in her honor,” Gene said. “It was all their idea.”
The family moved administration of the fund to Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) a few years ago. Having professionals handle the fund instead of siblings, who might have well-intentioned but conflicting ideas, helps avoid disagreements, according to Dizon.
SVCF also helps with compliance issues, making sure schools are aware of and comply with grant terms.
Since 2002, the Pashby Family Foundation funded scholarships for sixth through eighth graders in need of financial assistance at St. Lawrence Elementary and Middle School, where all the Pashby kids attended. This year the foundation will award two $1,000 scholarships at St. Lawrence and two $1,500 scholarships to college bound seniors at Wilcox High School.
“My mom always rooted for the underdog,” Dizon said. “She rooted for the ones who were in trouble, or didn’t fit in. As we got older, if there were people who didn’t have a place to go, they always knew they were welcome in our home.”
The Pashby Family Foundation’s funds come primarily from an annual event held at Sarah’s Vineyard in Gilroy, California, attended by more than 150 dedicated family and friends who purchase tickets, participate in a raffle and donate to the foundation. The siblings bring a smorgasbord of appetizers, followed by dinner and home-made desserts in honor of Gloria who was also an incredible cook.
Giving back is ingrained in the entire Pashby clan. They are well known for their community service, and family members volunteer at more than 30 local schools and charities, including 90-year-old Gene, who has been retired from United Airlines for almost 30 years and attends Mass at St. Lawrence nearly every day and volunteers weekly at Kaiser Medical Center in Santa Clara, continuing the family tradition of leading by example.
Gene Pashby, center in hat, with his seven children at the family’s recent fundraising event at Sarah’s Vineyard near Gilroy.