Ted Stanley, 84, philanthropist and Danbury Mint co-founder
NEW CANAAN — Ted Stanley, one of the most generous philanthropists in America and a co-founder of the Danbury Mint, died Monday. He was 84 and died peacefully in bed overnight at his home in New Canaan, his son, Jonathan Stanley, said.
No cause of death was provided.
Stanley is perhaps best known as the co-founder, with Ralph Glendinning in 1969, of the Danbury Mint, which marketed scores of die-cast model cars, commemorative plates, Christmas tree ornaments, figurines and other collectibles.
Stanley made a fortune selling collectibles, beginning with a series of medals commemorating the moon landing in 1969. His Norwalk-based company, MBI, specializes in marketing consumer products.
In 2014, Stanley donated $650 million to the Broad Institute, a biomedical research center in Cambridge, Mass., which carries out cutting-edge research on several different types of mental illness, as well as other diseases such as cancer. The Stanley gift is making possible a major global effort to collect 50,000 DNA samples from schizophrenia patients.
It’s hopedthe research, which is ongoing, will uncover the biological mechanisms underlying schizophrenia and other severe mental disorders. The gift was motivated by Jonathan, who suffered from bipolar disorder in his late teenage years.
According to an article published in the New York Times in 2014, Jonathan, then 19, was sent to a hospital’s psychiatric ward in New York in 1988 after he became convinced government agents were after him.
According to the Times account, he was on the loose for three days and nights, running through the city streets and subway tunnels. Police finally caught up with him after he climbed on a plastic crate and removed his clothes.
It took two years, but Jonathan Stanley finally was properly diagnosed with bipolar disorder and his condition improved after he received help. He was able to return to college, complete law school and become a lawyer. After making the gift, Stanley told the Times, “I would like to purchase that happy ending for other people.”
“I’m just turning over almost all my money, now and through my will, knowing with great certainty that they’re the best equipped to know the best ways to spend it,” Stanley said of the institute.
Over the course of his life, he donated more than $825 million in support of work at the Broad Institute, which brings together faculty from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and other collaborators.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stanley gave $2.4 million to 40 other nonprofits, including A Glimmer of Hope, a charity that works to fight poverty in Ethiopia; Boys & Girls Clubs of America; the Carter Center, a public-policy institute; and the Jampolsky Outreach Foundation, which helps people cope with illness, loss and other challenges.
Stanley was predeceased by his wife of 52 years, Vada Shell Stanley; Jonathan was their only child. After their marriage in 1961, the couple lived in Westport until they moved to Frogtown Road in New Canaan in 1992, according to town records. They also had homes in New York City, Santa Fe, N.M., and Vermont.
The couple was listed as No. 39 of the “Top 50 American Givers” by Bloomberg Business Magazine. They were ranked as one of the “Top 20 Donors” in the United States by CNN Money.