Sonora native Charles Segerstrom and his wife, Kate, have established the Charles and Kate Segerstrom Family Fund at the Sonora Area Foundation, allowing them to simplify their giving while continuing to support their favorite non-profit organizations and realizing tax advantages at the same time.
“We had some appreciated stock available for contribution, and rather than figure out how to split the proceeds, we put it all in a fund here for distribution,” Charles explained. “We get the full value for a tax deduction and the Sonora Area Foundation gets 100 percent of the dollar amount.”
Columbia College will be a major focus of the new Segerstrom fund.
“We’ve been associated with supporting the college for quite some time,” Charles noted. His father, William, spearheaded the extended family’s donation of the college’s Segerstrom Arboretum and Nature Trail in 1980, while his uncle’s estate funded the Charles Segerstrom Jr. Memorial Amphitheater.
Charles now sits on the board of the Columbia College Foundation.
In March, the college foundation approved a new program, the Promise Scholarship, which will provide funding for any public high school graduate in Tuolumne County who wants to attend Columbia College full time. Graduates of Bret Harte High School in Angels Camp also will be eligible since the college operates a satellite campus in Calaveras County.
Tuition and enrollment fees will be waived for all Promise Scholarship recipients for two consecutive semesters immediately following graduation.
The first scholarships will be awarded in the fall of 2018 to coincide with the college’s 50th anniversary celebration.
The Segerstrom fund also will contribute to the Sierra Business Council, of which Charles is a board member, and
various other entities he and his wife have traditionally supported, such as the hospital and theaters.
“We’re using this fund as a mechanism to support the college, with the flexibility to support other causes as well,” Segerstrom said, adding that “I didn’t realize something like this could be set up.”
He was made aware of the benefits of working with the Sonora Area Foundation by Darrell Slocum, the organization’s new executive director and Segerstrom’s fellow classmate in the Sonora High School graduating class of 1975.
“After talking with Darrell it seemed so flexible and useful for me and others who don’t want to give to just one organization,” Segerstrom said. “There are no administration fees, so it doesn’t dilute the gift. There is no downside to setting up a fund with the Sonora Area Foundation.”
Charles retired in 2013 after a 32 year career with Pacific Gas and Electric Co., managing training centers that taught architects, engineers, contractors and others the finer points of energy efficiency and renewable energy. He still serves as an energy efficiency consultant.
His family’s connection to Tuolumne County dates back to the Gold Rush era. His maternal great-grandmother,
Mattie Inch, was born in Sonora after her parents arrived from England via the Panama route in 1854. She married Charles Burden, who became one of Sonora’s first mayors and later established an undertaking parlor and furniture store.
Paternal grandfather Charles Homer Segerstrom was born in Sweden and arrived in the United States with his parents in 1882 at age 2.
Over the years, members of the extended Segerstrom family have been associated with Tuolumne County mining, banking, insurance, real estate, publishing and law both Charles’ wife, Kate, and cousin, Donald, currently serve as Tuolumne County Superior Court judges.
Kate was raised in coastal Southern California and met Charles while both were attending Stanford University. They were married in 1979 and have two sons, Owen and Carl, and two grandsons.