‘You Can’t Take it With You’
September 20, 2021
The inspiration behind one donor’s major gift to child health research.
Trained as a geologist, Elliott Simonberg has a keen appreciation for history and science. He is interested in how different landscapes developed over time, in architecture and in the genealogy of his Polish family.
But Simonberg is also interested in what lies ahead: his next international destination and the impact he can make for future generations through philanthropy.
Simonberg never married and has no children. “People might ask why,” he says of his planned gift to Children’s Hospital Colorado. “It’s because children are young! And they deserve a good start in life.”
A native New Yorker, Simonberg came to Denver in the early 1980s after a stint in Chicago. He worked in the oil and gas business, riding out the boom-and-bust cycles that are typical of the industry. When his employer closed its Denver office, Simonberg decided that his career had run its course. He focused instead on investing, which gave him the flexibility to pursue his love of travel.
“I built up a nest egg, and I am personally financially comfortable, so I can give through philanthropy,” he says.
A friend who is a part-time speech therapist at Children’s Colorado introduced Simonberg to some of her colleagues and invited him to a couple of hospital events. “I was so impressed with the people,” Simonberg says. “They were smart and really proud of where they worked, which is not that common.”
In the past, Simonberg gave small donations to many good causes but has changed his thinking more recently in favor of making one or two larger gifts that can make a more significant impact. With that philosophy in mind, he recently established an endowed fund to support child health research at Children’s Colorado, which will be funded by a testamentary bequest in his will, as well as annual donations.
Exactly what type of research his fund supports will be determined by the leadership at Children’s Colorado because, Simonberg says, “I don’t want to guess where it will be needed most. I want Children’s to make that decision.”
A second bequest will go to the Children’s Fund to meet the hospital’s greatest needs.
Over the years, Simonberg has visited almost 100 countries and traveled to both Antarctica and the arctic circle. He keeps a map on his living room wall studded with pins identifying all his past travel destinations.
“I feel very satisfied about this gift. I won’t say I’ve been selfish, but I have mostly thought about myself. Now I want to put my money where my mouth is,” he says. “Because, as they say, ‘You can’t take it with you.’”