During the years, the Berkeley-based pediatric surgeon continued his relationship with the foundation, frequently meeting with its directors and promising to add the group to his will.
Foundation leaders appreciated Makower's attention and dedication, but they never thought his final act of kindnesswould result in a $2.7 million endowment the largest unrestricted donation ever handed to one of the East Bay's oldest foundations.
"I had no sense his estate would be as large as it is," said Michael Howe, East Bay Community Foundation president. "He was not somebody who was seen as a major philanthropist."
Makower's donation will be placed in the foundation's unrestricted fund, meaning it can be used for whatever purpose the group feels is appropriate. Makower's only request was that the money be used for children's programs.
That donation was added Tuesday to the group's $16 million unrestricted account. The foundation, which has a $46.2 million invested endowment and more than $260 million in charitable assets, annually gives out $22 million.
It supports a wide range of organizations, from public schools to environmental groups.
As long as children benefit, how Makower's donation is spent is up to the foundation. "That was his only
Makower, who worked as a pediatrician in Berkeley, died in 1996 at age 81. His wife, Maurine, died last year.
Howe said the foundation knew it was going to get an estate gift from the Makower family.
"We knew we were going to get his legacy gift but we did not know the value of it," he said. "It was a nice surprise."