Philanthropist: Quiet Giver

After five decades of outsize charitable giving, Bostonian Tom White is down to his last few million--and still giving

The first gift Tom White recalls bestowing on anyone was a $200 train ticket. Returning home to Boston after his tour as a paratrooper in World War II, he found an Army pal struggling with civilian life and alcohol abuse. "I got him back to his family in Minnesota, where he could straighten out," White says. "That was a lot of money back then. But I don't like to see people hurting."

Over the next 55 years, White would make and give away a small fortune--$50 million--in a singular bid to end as much hurting as his money would allow. What...

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