Investing in the Future
Walter and Mary Frome are warm, generous people with a strong sense of commitment, both to each other as well as to their children and grandchildren, to their faith and to their community.
When the Fromes decided to do something, be it help for the disadvantaged (Special Olympics), aid for the creative arts (Orange County Performing Arts Center), or education (UCIrvine Graduate School of Real Estate), they do it with purpose. They believe that by supporting foundational elements within their community they are helping to ensure the wellbeing of generations now and those to come.
So when they decided to make their latest philanthropic contribution, it was not simply a question of how much. Rather, it was how they can have the greatest impact with what they have to give.
“We have always felt the importance of being actively involved in local charities,” said Mary. “Helping to extend a ‘safety net’ around our community was more like a gift to us, knowing how necessary it is for the future.”
It was then that Mary and Walter Frome made a $1 million donation to Hoag Hospital in support of the Emergency Department expansion.
For the Fromes, their passion for giving is on par with their passion for living. They make the absolute most of what they have and live life to its full potential. And speaking of par, they were charter members of both Big Canyon Country Club in Newport Beach as well as The Vintage Club in Indian Wells, where Walter served as President and Mary held the Chairmanship of The Women’s Club for two seasons.
Both Mary and Walter grew up in Wisconsin. After serving as a First Lieutenant in the Army Air Forces during WWII, Walter completed his education with an MBA from the University of Wisconsin and started work in a bank in Milwaukee. He and Mary were married and started their family; however, within a few years Walter received an offer from a bank in Los Angeles and decided to move Mary and the kids to Southern California.
In the early 1960’s Walter transitioned from his career in finance to real estate. After a fifteen-year period of working for a leading Orange County development firm he began actively building his family-owned industrial development and investment business, Frome Investments. During this period he still managed to be involved in the Orange County community in one way, shape, form, or another.
His philanthropic endeavors began taking shape with the expansion of facilities at Servite High School in Anaheim, where he served on the Finance Committee. Walter played a key role in the early days of the Catholic Diocese of Orange, beginning as an original member of the Diocesan Lay Advisory Committee. From there he served a number of years as Chairman of the Finance and Investment Committee, the Construction Board, and the Land Acquisition Committee, which was responsible for acquiring a number of properties which were to be utilized to develop new parishes for the ever-expanding new diocese.
But that was not all he did. Walter managed to stay politically active after the war and eventually became an early member of the Defense Orientation Conference Association, headquartered in Washington D.C. This nationwide group of businessmen, most with some military background, would travel to foreign countries several times a year, meeting with governmental and military leaders, both of the host nations and members of the U.S. foreign services.
Mary, who was still home raising their family, began her energetic work within the community. She worked with the Boy Scouts, Holy Family School Board and the Alter Society, and was a founding member of the Tustin Chapter of Assistance League. She also became a major supporter of the Orange County Performing Arts as well as Special Olympics. And through her work as president of Our Lady Queen of Angels Parish Council, Mary became involved with a local home for unwed mothers, Casa Teresa Founders Guild, which raises money each year to acquire and support the housing for mothers who are giving their babies up for adoption; mothers who plan to keep their babies; and, mothers who need extra help after their babies are born.
Together, Walter and Mary Frome successfully managed to raise seven children, travel to more than 60 foreign countries – including the North Pole and Antarctica – and, bicycle their way through various parts of Europe four times. They still love the Badgers and the Green Bay Packers, and like their favorite mascot, these badger fans have created a long-lasting network of support for the people and the communities they love.
Dear to their hearts is the Frome Family Foundation which they established several years ago, and which is becoming the vehicle for much of their charitable giving. Each of their children (and spouses) play an active role in the foundation, and even the older grandchildren are encouraged to identify and process requests for grants.
For Mary, the couple’s philanthropic endeavors were an extension of their lives. Her philosophy is very simple. “I like people,” she said. “I want the best for them.” For Walter, he hopes that their donation to Hoag will lead others to contribute. “My parents did not have a lot of money, and being raised during the depression was truly a difficult experience,” recalls Walter. “But they were hard-working, conscientious and caring people. I believe they set a great example for us during those hard times, and I would like to think that our donation to the Hoag Emergency Facilities expansion might perhaps motivate others to help this very worthy cause.”