MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- James R. Oppenheimer, who helped expand Blandin Foundation grants in greater Minnesota, has died at 78.
Oppenheimer, of White Bear Lake, was a chairman of the board of trustees of the Blandin Foundation, which gives nearly $20 million in grants a year to help strengthen outstate communities.
A few years after he succeeded his father, William Oppenheimer Sr., as chairman, changes in federal tax law necessitated a change in the foundation's financial structure. He and Jim Harris, who represented the corporate trustees of the former Northwestern National Bank, restructured the financial arrangement between the foundation and the trustees of Blandin Paper Co. in Grand Rapids.
Before the change, the foundation had been giving out about $250,000 to $500,000 a year, said Henry Doerr, a friend and one of the trustees. After the restructuring, the payout jumped to about $4 million a year, Doerr said.
The foundation had been distributing all its money in Grand Rapids. But Doerr said Oppenheimer realized that to stay true to the purpose of the foundation, it would have to be expanded to all of greater Minnesota.
Today, the foundation has about $400 million in assets. In May the foundation, together with the McKnight Foundation, announced record grants totaling $32.5 million to help build more than 3,000 units of affordable housing in outstate communities.
Oppenheimer was a partner in the St. Paul law firm of Oppenheimer, Wolff & Donnelly. He graduated from Dartmouth College and Yale University Law School and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Christine Kurth Oppenheimer, and his stepson, Stephen White. He is survived by his daughter, Susan Oppenheimer, of Old Saybrook, Conn.; a stepdaughter, Christine Samuel, of Rochester, N.Y.; a brother, William, of Plymouth; and several grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held July 22 at 2 p.m at the Cremation Society of Minnesota in Edina.
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