top story

Betty Schoenbaum celebrates 100th birthday, decades of giving back

  • 0

The City of Sarasota has declared September 27 as Heart to Heart Hug Day in honor of Betty Schoenbaum's 100th birthday and her infamous embraces.

"The most important thing in my life is my family, my giving is second," Schoenbaum said.

But a close second. Betty and her late husband Alex have donated millions of dollars through the Schoenbaum family foundation to arts and human services organizations throughout the country and on the Suncoast, including the Salvation Army and the Boys & Girls Clubs.

"My favorite charities are for the underprivileged and education, early childhood education and college scholarships,"Schoenbaum said.

Schoenbaum's oldest child Raymond said his mother's philosophy is that it's best to give while you're still alive so you can see the difference your donations make.

"They don't carry money bags on the side of your hearse," Raymond Schoenbaum said. "She's had great joy giving the money herself and enjoying the projects that have been accomplished by that."

Schoenbaum has passed on that lesson of giving to her children and her zest for life to everyone she meets.

"She's lived a very healthy, active life," Raymond said. "And the activity keeps her alive, and she's a very vibrant, loving, caring person."

"I do go the gym once a week," Schoenbaum said. "Want to feel my muscle?"

Shoenbaum also loves to play the piano and never misses a chance to go out on the town with friends.

"My advice to young people is you take life seriously but you have your fun. You can't live life without having fun," she said.