On Monday, 86-year-old multimillionaire Robert W. Wilson, who was best known for his charitable ventures toward the environmentalist movement, threw himself from the sixteenth floor of his Upper West Side apartment building, the famous San Remo. He left a note before jumping. He had a stroke several months back, and had told friends that he “didn’t want to suffer.”
In 2000, Wilson’s fortune was estimated at $800 million; he gave away all but $100 million by the time of his death, according to his friends. He gave $100 million to the World Monuments Fund, another $100 million to the Nature Conservancy, $100 million to the Environmental Defense Fund, and $100 million to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
He also gave millions to Catholic private schools despite the fact that he was an atheist. He said, “Most of what the Catholic schools teach are the three Rs. And they do it better than the union-controlled inner-city schools.” Over time, he became close friends with Cardinal Edward Egan of the Archdiocese of New York.