Just after World War II, when Jack and Anne Spiegel were young Boston-area newlyweds, they decided to do something quite surprising: embark on their new business of making moccasins in Maine.
Jack was just out of the Army. His training had been in social work. Anne was a medical secretary. Neither had business experience, but moccasins represented a niche in footwear that nobody had developed--and Jack was a big believer in niches. Maine, they knew, had a reputation for honest, thrifty, quality workmanship
So in 1947 the Spiegels moved to Portland and launched Quoddy Moccasins. "Our other trademark was 'Best of Maine. "Our goal was always best of its kind. It was fun," recalls Jack.
Twenty-five successful years later, the Spiegels sold the company and began to do the things they had longed to do: travel, volunteer work, trying their hands at other endeavors.
Giving back was natural because it was a part of their heritage. Growing up as first generation Jewish immigrants in the Depression, giving was a given. "Money was very tight, it didn't matter," recalls Anne of her close-knit family. "They were always doing for others."
In 1948 the Spiegels were founding members of Portland's Temple Beth El. Jack helped start the first Goodwill Stores in the Portland area. He also counseled people hoping to start new businesses. This past December, he was honored with the "Twenty Year Service Award" from the Portland chapter of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives Association.
The couple bought several woodlots that had been, says Jack, "hopelessly abused," and enjoyed the work of bringing them back to life. They eventually donated one lot to expand Bradbury Mountain State Park and another, Moose and Morgan Meadows, to the town of Raymond for conservation use, through the Land for Maine's Future Program.
The Spiegels' particular interests included conservation, the environment, and special needs of people. "There was a lot of paperwork, acknowledgments, records, receipts," Jack recalls. Charles Harriman, a founding board member of the Maine Community Foundation, suggested they start a fund with the foundation.
Jack and Anne took their friend's advice. Establishing a fund at the Maine Community Foundation simplified their lives. "We could budget what we had available," Jack explains, "and all we had to do was tell them where we wanted to send it. They were very efficient, a great source of advice, and they continue to handle our money in a good conservative manner.
As the Spiegels enter their 80s, they have begun to work on setting up a permanent fund with the foundation. Says Jack, "We like the idea of creating some continuity and we can't think of any better way of doing it than with guidance and assistance of the Maine Community Foundation." Selling a property in Florida was one of the services provided to the couple by MaineCF staff.
Jack and Anne want their charitable legacy to go to Maine, and they intend it to be flexible, knowing that they won't be able to predict future needs. A portion of their fund may never come to their adopted state, and they couldn't be more pleased about it. That's the money they've set aside for their grandson, David Spiegel, of Texas.
"He's 16 now," says Jack. "He's been giving money away since he was 12 when he made a donation to the children's hospital in Fort Worth. I don't know how it happened, but the hospital called him and gave him a tour of what his donation had done. It was quite wonderful."
Jack and Anne Spiegel both beam. "We have fond hopes that by getting our grandson interested in giving this way, he might continue." In all respects they are leaving a very special legacy.