Saul Wagman had two main passions: his business and his love of the many race horses which he owned over the years.
Saul operated a successful scrap metal business for most of his life. In the late 1970’s, Saul was referred to me by his trusted advisors - his lawyer, Sam Gotfrid, and his accountant, Ron Heller, both of blessed memory, for consultations on tax issues. In 1980 I had several meetings with Saul, Sam and Ron to help Saul create a will and advise on estate planning.
Saul had amassed some wealth over the years and because he had never married and had no children we had lengthy discussions as to what should be done with his assets. Sam, Ron and I were very engaged with Jewish community and had some ideas to suggest but ultimately it was about ensuring that Saul’s plan was meaningful to him.
The idea of supporting Jewish education strongly resonated with Saul. He shared that he had never had much of a Jewish education so he felt good about providing a more enriched Jewish education experience to others. In his will, he left the bulk of his estate to establish a fund to support and enhance Jewish education in our community – ultimately the Saul S. Wagman Educational Fund (now part of the Jewish Foundation).
Little did Saul know at the time, but this exercise became a model for the future of planned giving. Endowments were barely used and little understood back then. Saul’s fund ensured a continuance of generous support in years well beyond his passing which occurred in 1989. Every year, funds are allocated to projects that are in true alignment with Saul’s intent and designated wishes and as executor of his estate, I still participate in this process.
Saul’s legacy was marked by another notable moment shortly after his passing. While Saul had already divested most of his race horse collection there still remained one in his estate and I wondered what to do with the remaining horse? We had received a meagre offer but someone suggested we enter the horse in a ‘claiming race’. Not only was the horse actually claimed, but it even won! The claiming price and prize money well exceeded what we’d have earned if we had simply sold it. The win topped up Saul’s endowment fund and the horse became known as the “UJA Horse”.
Over the years, the Saul S. Wagman Education Fund has supported many programs and touched thousands of people in this community. Yet far too few even know of Saul and the impact of his gift. We hope this story keeps his legacy alive with appreciation for the good he did for this community. He led by example by being one of the first to establish such a meaningful endowment through his will.
As written by Ronnie Appleby