An Early InvestorScripps was born in London on October 18, 1836, but her father decided to move the family to the United States when she was 7. Scripps loved learning, so after finishing high school she enrolled at Knox College. She completed a course of study in 1859 and went on to teach. However, in 1873 she left her teaching career behind and joined her brothers in their newspaper ventures.
Scripps invested her savings in her brother James’s new company, the Detroit Evening News, where she also worked as a proofreader. Her brothers continued to establish newspapers, and she continued to invest in them. By all accounts a sharp businesswoman, Scripps paid close attention to her finances and spent her money wisely.
The Most Beloved Woman in California“Charity begins at home,” Scripps once declared. With the death of her brother George, Scripps inherited even more wealth. As she approached the end of her life and considered how to spend the vast fortune she possessed, E.W. offered her sound advice.
“It seemed to me fitting that you should give most to those whom you loved most,” he wrote. “If, instead of an individual, you chose the whole community to be your beneficiary, that is a matter of your own sentiment, and it seemed fitting and proper.”
Other notable donations Scripps made to educational institutions include her support of the Claremont Colleges, one of which, Scripps College, bears her name. In 1926, Time magazine featured her on the cover as a result of Scripps’s involvement in this project, crowning her the “most beloved woman in Southern California.”
She gives, has made giving an art. She runs her eye down a contribution list, matches her donation with the largest there, says “Whatever you lack, come to me.” When the La Jolla Women’s Club was founded, she sought out women of literary tastes financially unable to join, penned them notes, “Please accept membership as a present from me.”Because of Scripps’s passion for education as a former teacher, she also contributed money to the San Diego Zoo. Through this venture, Scripps hoped to help children learn more about nature. Her donations helped build the facilities for the animals, paid the director’s salary, and built an impressive aviary.
Filling a NeedIn addition to these educational efforts and others, Scripps gave to areas where she perceived a need. She helped build both the Scripps Memorial Hospital and the Scripps Metabolic Clinic. When she was 85 years old, she broke her hip making up a cot on her porch and had to stay in the hospital for a time, which inspired the additional gifts she made to the hospital.
“Miss Scripps had made a career out of giving money to worthy causes,” the San Diego Union declared. “That implies the fact that she had money to give. But her success in giving is notable, and that implies that she has given more than money. … She has given intelligence, foresight, warmth of heart, love, understanding, [and] encouragement.”
Scripps never wanted the records of her donations to be public, so no one will ever know the full extent of her generosity. However, the city of San Diego will never forget this great benefactress’s mark on her adopted hometown.