In 1938, Leonard Buck, a medical doctor, married Beryl Hamilton, a nurse. Leonard had inherited a sizable fortune. The couple built a home on a seven-acre lot in Ross.
There were no children.
In 1953, Leonard died of a heart attack. Beryl had her financial affairs managed by a neighbor in Ross. Beryl died in 1975. Her will specified that most of her $7 million estate should fund Marin’s needy and elderly.
The San Francisco Foundation administered the funds, issuing hundreds of thousands of dollars of grants within Marin. In 1979, Shell Oil Co. purchased the Belridge Oil Co. Assets in her estate that included Belridge Oil Co. stock consequently became worth more than $250 million.
Several Bay Area Charities applied for San Francisco Foundation grants. What followed was the costliest legal battle in Marin’s history.
The trial judge’s ruling divided the assets among new entities: the Marin County Foundation, the Buck Institute for Age Research, the Buck Institute of Education, and the Marin Institute.
In 1999, the Buck Institute for Age Research moved into a building designed by I.M. Pei on 488 acres on the side of Mt. Burdell above Novato. There have been several later additions.
(This vignette of Marin history is compiled by the Mill Valley Historical Society for Marinscope Community Newspapers.)