With the exception of my mother and father, no two people had a more profound effect on every aspect of my life than Joe and Steffi Koret.
I met them when I was in my teens (they were friends of my parents); they circled back into my life when we became business partners in the 1960s and 1970s, working side-by-side through the lowest and highest points at Koret of California. I’m happy to share my wonderful memories of them here.
We talk so much about Joe and his purported vision of the Koret Foundation; it’s a shame that Steffi is hardly mentioned in the conversation any more. Steffi was a larger-than-life figure, passionate about business and culture. She was critical to the success of their ventures in life, in the community, and in the commercial world. She died after being married to Joe for more than 50 years.
What most people don’t realize is that it was Steffi’s fortune that first endowed the Koret Foundation. When she passed away, I advised Joe to direct Steffi’s community property to the foundation and he finally agreed. It was that very consequential decision that paved the way for the half-billion-dollar philanthropic powerhouse we know today as the Koret Foundation. It would likely not have happened without Steffi’s vision and ultimately without her share of the Korets’ community property.
Since the activation of the Koret Foundation with the estate of Stephanie Koret, it has made philanthropic grants of nearly half a billion dollars to meritorious projects and organizations in the Bay Area, in Israel, and in Poland.