Current Issue / DU Alumni

Giving a part of life for Houston Harte

Growing up on the plains of West Texas, Houston Harte (BSBA ’83) was surrounded by a dusty horizon, long, flat stretches of cotton and oil fields and — philanthropy.

“Giving was just part of my family,” says Harte, who now lives in Santa Barbara, Calif., as a semi-retired investor. “My grandparents and parents would give money to kids’ families for school or summer camps — kids I grew up with playing on the playground.”

During the Great Depression, Harte says, his grandparents collected shoes and gave them to needy kids around town.

The lessons were not lost on Harte, and today he sees a horizon of better futures for kids through his own philanthropy.

He and his wife, Anne, recently pledged $250,000 to create the Harte Family Endowed Scholarship Fund at the University of Denver.

“Houston is so incredibly generous and humble that he initially discouraged us from using his name on the endowed fund,” says Ed Harris, vice chancellor for University Advancement. “Only after we explained that attaching an alumnus name to the fund could both encourage his peers to consider similar gifts and educate students on the importance of alumni giving did he acquiesce.”

Harte also directly supports a current DU student with money for “books, housing, whatever she needs,” says Harte, whose son, also named Houston, is a senior at DU studying real estate development and construction management.

“My childhood was great, and I didn’t really appreciate it at the time,” Harte says. “The kids today are working a little harder than I did, and they don’t have the opportunities I had, so I like to help.”

He adds the giving comes back to him “not in the form of the child coming back to say I’m a CEO of a huge company, but in the way of just being presented with an opportunity to help a kid. That really makes me feel good.”

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