Our Gratitude to the Countess
Our Gratitude to the Countess
I join our residents in mourning the loss of Countess Henrietta de Hoernle who gave much to make Boca Raton what it is today.
A city is only as good as its residents make it. And Ms. de Hoernle, one of the city’s leading philanthropists who gave unselfishly to improve the lives of countless in this city that she has called home since 1981.
To celebrate her milestone 100th birthday, the Countess’ friends organized a birthday party, which was indeed a once-in-a-lifetime extraordinary charitable fundraising gig. They asked invitees to continue her legacy by giving with their checkbooks instead of gifts. A similar event was held for her 102nd birthday.
Ms. de Hoernle, who died July 22 at 103, believed that giving begins at home, and as she would say, “this is our home!”
That money was then donated to local charities that she supported.
She has said in published reports that she thinks her work is not done because there is something important that is still to do.
She is by far one of the most well-known names in Boca Raton, with her name being on at least 50 buildings and having donated more than $40 million to about 150 local nonprofit organizations of her choice. She once told me that she loves to see her name on buildings. She hoped it would entice others who have the wherewithal to help our city, she said.
I think Gregory W. Schultz, C100 CEO and a long-time member of The Order of St. John, puts it best when he said that the Countess is an expert at ‘drive-by’ giving.”
“She looks to see where the need is, and armed only with her pen and notebook, with no secretary or entourage, she—and she alone—decides what to give, how much, to whom and how, often hand-delivering her gift within hours of first learning about those who need it the most,” the Wellington resident was quoted in a 2012 article in Black Tie Magazine.
The Countess and her late husband Count Adolph de Hoernle moved to Boca Raton in 1981 from New York, where she was just as active and charitable.
I vividly recall in 1999 after touring the old Wayne Barton Study Center in a cramped room at the Dixie Manor housing project, she immediately saw that the need for a building. More than 90 students were using the center’s services each week.
“These children need our help,” she told me. “Even if it’s $5 or $10, everything adds up. The main thing is keeping them off the streets, which this center will definitely do.”
She immediately pledged to match up to $750,000 in donations to build a new complex. And she was true to her word.
Her philanthropic arm extends beyond the city limits as her name is on tallest building at Palm Beach State College main campus in Lake Worth.
The viewing for Ms. de Hoernle will be at 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 6 at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church, 100 NE Mizner Blvd., in Boca Raton. The funeral will follow at 10:30.
Countess de Hoernle indeed made this city a better place.
C. Ron Allen can be reached at crallen@DelrayBeachTribune.com or 561-665-0151.