In what is believed to be the largest single bequest ever given to LGBT causes, one of the original five employees of Microsoft Corporation has left $65 million to gay rights and HIV/AIDS organizations. The Seattle Times reported the gift from the estate of Ric Weiland on Feb 24.
The $65 million will help to establish a fund at the Pride Foundation of Seattle that will give $46 million over the next eight years to the following 10 national LGBT and HIV/AIDS groups: Lambda Legal; the Task Force; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research; In The Life; the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network; Project Inform; the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. In addition, $19 million will go directly to the Pride Foundation for scholarships and grants to benefit the LGBT community in the Pacific Northwest.
A high school classmate of Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, Weiland worked at the company from 1975 to 1988. He took leading roles in the development of the Microsoft Works word processing and spreadsheet software, and the BASIC and COBOL systems, two of the oldest computer programming languages.
Weiland, who was a board member of the Pride Foundation for a number of years, has bequeathed nearly $160 million in all to organizations that also include environmental and education organizations. He died in 2006 at age 53, and is survived by his partner, Mike Schaefer.