Robert S. Handler (April 27, 1937 - May 14, 2015) was born and grew up in Chicago, Ill. and spent summers in Iowa where his extended family had a farm. Bob’s parents were J. Alan Handler and Lillian L. Handler. They had two other children, James Handler who was Bob’s older brother and Joyce Lifshin, Bob’s younger sister. Alan Handler, Bob’s father was a pharmacist and owned several pharmacies which were locally famous for their homemade ice-cream. Bob graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and earned a law degree from the University of Chicago. He traveled extensively throughout Europe and Israel during his youth, and spent several years living in Paris and on the French Mediterranean coast. During those years he met numerous artists and began his art collection which he continued to add to throughout his life.
After Bob returned to the United States he settled in Atlanta, Ga and became involved in several business ventures. Bob began his career in banking specializing in strategic asset liquidation for First Union and later Wachovia banks. While living in Atlanta, Bob donated a collection of drawings and prints to the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. In 1991 he was transferred to the Columbia SC branch of First Union and was involved in turning around several local developments that had suffered from the recession of 1990.
Around 2002, Bob retired from Wachovia Bank as a Senior Executive Vice President. At this time, he discovered that he had developed COPD which prevented him from enjoying his passion for travel during his retirement. Bob started spending happy hour at Bar None and enjoyed chatting with the many different types of professionals that gathered there. During his career in the financial sector, Bob had built-up a substantial stock & bond portfolio. He realized that he had accumulated far more wealth than he needed and wanted to continue giving to the institutions that helped shape his ideals and values through-out his life. Bob began by giving a sizable donation to the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.
Bob passed in May of 2015 from lung cancer. He bequeathed monetary gifts to the Tree of Life Synagogue and the Katie & Irwin Kahn Jewish Community Center in Columbia, SC. The remaining pieces in his art collection were bequeathed to different art institutions and to several of his close friends. The bulk of Bob’s estate was set up in a charitable trust with the only stipulation being that it is to be used to make life worth living. The co-trustees of the Robert S. Handler Charitable Trust have taken these brief words to heart and have endeavored to give grants to small, local groups that would not ordinarily be noticed by more mainstream donors in their giving. The trustee’s take care to include charitable, artistic, athletic and scholarly pursuits in the grants from the trust. The hope is that the grants will enable the recipients to have the opportunity to experience a life as rich and full as possible.