The name Fleet is synonymous with San Diego for a variety of reasons.
Major Reuben H. Fleet sparked an industrial boom in the region 80 years ago in 1935 when he moved his company, Consolidated Aircraft Corporation, to San Diego. And Major Fleet and his family provided the charitable support which brought the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center to Balboa Park and to countless San Diegans and visitors.
If that’s not enough, the Fleet family has long supported San Diego and an array of causes from youth development to science research.
Fleet Family History
But where did it all begin?
Before the family name became well known for leadership, community and philanthropy, Reuben H. Fleet was a young boy from the state of Washington. He was an excellent student and was offered a scholarship to Culver Military Academy in Indiana.
Reuben H. Fleet
This scholarship opportunity instilled in the future leader a desire to give back, which would spark a fire for charity that would burn long after he graduated.
As his daughter and fellow philanthropist, Susan Welsch, explained, “because of the wonderful education my father received, he always felt he should give back to schools, and to students who could not afford a good education.”
So as Fleet grew older and attained success in his career, his commitment to charity became second nature.
Alongside his wife and community leader, Eva May Fleet, he funded everything from students and science to healthcare and the homeless.
And that legacy of giving lives on with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Today, three generations of Fleets engage in philanthropy with The San Diego Foundation to grow a more vibrant region.
Lori Fleet Martin (left) and Susan Welsch (right)
In 30 years the family has granted more than $16 million to organizations that address current and future challenges in San Diego. And thanks to the endowed legacy funds of the Fleet family, that number will grow in perpetuity.
A Lesson for All
The Fleet family legacy is one built on a simple virtue instilled from a young age.
Susan Welsch shared a poignant quote her father would repeat to her as a child that sums up the true spirit of the Fleet family:
“For we must share if we’re to have blessings from above. Ceasing to share, we cease to have – such is the law of love.”
The Fleet family hopes more San Diegans will recognize the power of philanthropy as they and many other leaders have.