Marion and Herb Sandler

The Marion and Herbert Sandler oral history project documents the intertwined lives of the Sandlers through their shared pursuits in raising a family, serving as co-CEOs for the savings and loan Golden West Financial, and establishing a remarkably influential philanthropy in the Sandler Foundation. This project consists of eighteen unique oral history interviews, at the center of which is a 24-hour life history interview with Herb Sandler. All project interviews were conducted by Martin Meeker between January 2017 and July 2018.

Marion Osher Sandler was born October 17, 1930, in Biddeford, Maine, to Samuel and Leah Osher. She was the youngest of five children; all of her siblings were brothers and all went on to distinguished careers in medicine and business. She attended Wellesley as an undergraduate where she was elected into Phi Beta Kappa. She took a job on Wall Street, in the process becoming only the second woman on Wall Street to hold a non-clerical position. She started with Dominick & Dominick in its executive training program and then moved to Oppenheimer and Company where she worked as a highly respected analyst. While building an impressive career on Wall Street, she earned her MBA at New York University. Herbert Sandler is an American philanthropist and businessman. Sandler was born in New York City in 1931 and was raised in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1951 and from the Columbia School of Law in 1954. He worked as an attorney in private practice and for the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. Sandler met Marion Osher in 1960 and they wed in 1961. Herb and Marion Sandler moved to California in 1962 in order to purchase a small savings and loan institution. The Sandlers both served as CEOs of the institution, which was named Golden West Financial Corporation. The operating subsidiary was named Golden West Savings and later renamed to World Savings. The Sandlers sold Golden West in 2006 as they had been devoting more of their time to philanthropy. Through the Sandler Foundation, the Sandlers invested heavily in many existing organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, and founded several others, including ProPublica and the Center for American Progress.

In these oral history interviews, the narrators discuss the following topics, among many others: Sandler and Osher family background and upbringing; education and law school; the life and work of Marion Osher Sander; the practice of law in New York City; the purchase, expansion, culture, business model, and governance of Golden West Financial; the Savings and Loan Crisis of the 1980s; the financial crisis of the 2000s; and the establishment, administration, interests, and leadership of the Sandler Foundation; key receipients of support, including: American Civil Liberties Union, University of California San Francisco, ProPublica, Center for American Progress, Center for Responsible Lending, Human Rights Watch, and more.

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