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I learned a lot from my grandfather, Albert B. Alkek. As a small child, he taught me to fish in the swimming pool at the family ranch in Bandera, combining fishing lore with funny stories and tales of the business world. Working for him as a young adult I saw behind the scenes, and learned how he became a successful businessman. It wasn’t until after his death that I learned how much impact his philanthropy has made, and continues to make, on the world.

Everyone agreed that “Mr. A,” as he was always called, was quite a character. He had a quest for knowledge and success that belied his modest education. His flamboyance in the business world was offset by decades of quiet charitable giving.

A self-made man, he started with a $250 loan from his dad and left a charitable foundation with initial assets of $178 million. He was a risk taker – a wildcatter; a stock trader; and an entrepreneur. In his later years, his drive to succeed turned to the philanthropic world.
He employed the same energy and focus he used in making money to giving money away.
My grandfather made investments in people and institutions he believed would excel over the long haul. He particularly favored research and knowledge, and the majority of his gifts over the years were focused on medicine and education.

He was supported in his endeavors by my grandmother, Margaret McFarland Alkek, a quiet, Southern lady of soft voice and kind heart with deep ties to her family, neighbors and community. She worked side by side with my grandfather for many years to build a successful business.

My grandmother is also a strong believer in education. Her love of learning returned her to
school in the late forties as a middle-aged parent to complete the college education interrupted by her marriage. She favors organizations that support children, education and the community.

My mother, Margaret Alkek Williams, inherited her parents’ interests and passion for philanthropy. As a teenager, my parents’ commitments to public service impressed me through deeds instead of words. My mother and my father, Dr. Charles H. Williams, helped people because, to them, it was the natural and obvious thing to do. My wife, Randa Duncan Williams, and I hope to instill similar values in our son, Harrison, so that he will follow in the family’s footsteps.

Philanthropy is one of the ties that binds our family together. It keeps our lives in perspective and reminds us that money is only worth what you can do with it. As my grandfather said,
“You can’t wear but one suit, and you can’t eat but three meals a day. What are you going to
do with your money except help others?”

Charles A. Williams

Albert and Margaret Alkek Foundation
1100 Louisiana, Suite 5250
Houston, Texas 77002
Tel: 713.652.6601