Business 100 – 2019

Chuck Feeny/Philanthropist

Chuck Feeney was never one for the limelight, but his selfless actions over the years have propelled him into it whether he liked it or not. In 1996, it emerged that he had donated over $600 million, a huge portion of his personal wealth, to create Atlantic Foundation, the fourth-largest philanthropic organization in the U.S. The co-founder of Duty Free Shops, Feeney, a New Jersey native, was identified as the donor only after the sale of the chain of stores. Feeney holds dual citizenship in Ireland and the United States and has always gone to bat on all things Irish, from lending his considerable support in bringing American involvement to bear on the Irish peace process to supporting efforts to help illegal Irish immigrants. Born in 1931, Feeney was raised in a working class section of Elizabeth, N.J., during the Great Depression. His father, the son of an emigrant from County Fermanagh, Ireland, was an insurance underwriter and his mother was a nurse. In 1948, at age 17, Chuck enlisted in the United States Air Force, serving for four years in postwar Japan and Korea.