The Angell Foundation is the living legacy of David and Lynn Angell, a generous couple who shared an authentic joy in life and a love for people. Married for 30 years, they possessed a profound sense of gratitude for their good fortune and committed themselves to sharing their prosperity with others. For them, philanthropy was an extension of their natural inclination to help people, knowing that sometimes people need a hand. Whether dealing with the very wealthy and influential or the disadvantaged, they modeled humanity, kindness and humility. Helping others was a principle they took seriously and enjoyed immensely, and their motivations sprang from a deep, spiritual desire to make a difference in the world.
David and Lynn’s desire to help others and invest in their community was a central expression of the faith and spirituality that guided their lives. For David, his Catholicism formed the core for his service. He was raised in a Catholic home and educated in Catholic schools from kindergarten through his graduation from Providence College. Angell family members were consistent and active supporters of and participants in their church community and its mission to serve the poor. For Lynn, a passion for serving others was also forged in church. As a young girl coming of age in Birmingham, Alabama at the height of the civil rights movement, “She stood on the street outside our church," Lynn’s brother Tom recalls, "watching a black family trying to attend services and being turned away. That seemed incongruous to her and unfair.” Recounting this story even decades later, Tom says, “she wept with the same sadness and rage she felt back then.” From these early experiences, both David and Lynn developed deeply principled commitments to social justice.
College and Beyond
David Angell met Lynn Edwards on Cape Cod when Lynn, an undergraduate at Auburn University in Alabama, moved to the resort community for the summer. She took a job waitressing at a local country club, while David -- recently graduated from Providence College in Rhode Island -- worked in the club’s golf shop. He was immediately smitten. In the summer of 1971, Lynn and David returned to Lynn’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama and were married amongst family and friends. By all accounts, they adored one another.
The newlyweds soon returned to David’s home town of Providence. While Lynn pursued a master’s degree in library science at the University of Rhode Island, David applied his craft as a technical writer explaining company policies at an insurance company. David’s quiet strength served as a wonderful complement to Lynn’s gentle yet frank manner and rock solid foundation. David not only appreciated Lynn, but came to rely on her strength in return.
Before long, David yearned for an opportunity to develop his writing in more creative ways, leading the couple to move to California. They agreed to commit five years in pursuit of David’s ambition to become a television comedy writer.
Following the Dream
Upon their arrival in Los Angeles, David and Lynn set to work as a team; their lives were grounded in solid, basic, middle class values like hard work, integrity and community. David took whatever day job he could find to contribute to their household, as he continued to develop his craft at night. In turn, Lynn was enormously supportive of David’s ambitions and often typed his scripts in the evenings after returning home from a full day of work. She supported the household by applying her professional expertise as a librarian at the Campbell Hall School, a private, college preparatory high school in Los Angeles.
After five years of struggle to establish himself as a writer, David had achieved only nominal success, so true to their agreement, David and Lynn decided it was time to return to New England. The week they were packing the U-Hall to begin their sojourn home, David’s talents were finally recognized, and he was hired to write a script for the sitcom "Archie Bunker’s Place." David embraced the opportunity and it wasn’t long before he was able to parlay this job for another. Soon, he became a staff writer on "Cheers," where he met his future partners, Peter Casey and David Lee. During this time he honed his talents, producing the smart, funny and clever scripts that would become his signature. Following the success of "Cheers," the trio went on to create two more hit comedy series’ "Wings" and "Frasier." In all, the partners received 37 Emmy nominations and won 24 Emmy Awards.
Colleagues often commented that David Angell was an exceedingly kind man whose sharp wit and good humor combined with a decency and humility not often associated with the cynicism and irreverence usually found in comedy writing rooms. His contributions were described as “human, true, quirky, warm and hilarious.” One colleague felt that through his writing he often “elevated the moral level and quality of television.” In addition to his many Emmy Awards, David’s work was formally recognized when the Writer’s Guild of America posthumously awarded him its Humanitas Prize, “for stories which, affirm the dignity of the human person, probe the meaning of life and enlighten the use of human freedom."
Philanthropic Spirit and Commitment
David and Lynn were deeply appreciative of their good fortune and never forgot the years of struggle and hard work that preceded their success. True to their values, they found ways to “give back” to others and to their communities. David made himself available for advice and counsel to Providence College alumni interested in pursuing careers in the entertainment industry and he and Lynn often volunteered to host fundraising dinners and golf tournaments in support of college efforts. David’s co-chairmanship of a capital campaign for Providence College helped raise $70.4 million in pledges. For Lynn, their success allowed her to exchange her paid position at Campbell Hall School for a volunteer position as the head librarian at Hillsides, a Pasadena residential facility and school for foster children. At Hillsides, Lynn was known to engage the children in heartfelt and personal ways such as providing a young boy with a tuxedo so he could attend his first prom and furnishing a kitchen for a young woman about to graduate from the foster care system into her first apartment. At Hillsides, Lynn knew the names of all 66 children on the campus and even sent each one a personalized postcard while on vacation. This personal touch and respect was a hallmark of their giving.
Their newfound professional success also allowed them to increase their financial support to organizations that mattered to them. While David had consistently sent his alma mater modest contributions since his graduation, he substantially increased his giving, ultimately creating the David Angell Scholarship Fund at Providence College to provide financial support to needy students. Lynn applied her professional expertise to the development of a rich children’s library program at Hillsides, culminating with her unsolicited offer to financially underwrite the renovation of an old storage barn for use as a dedicated library space. John Hitchcock, former executive director of Hillsides warmly remembers, “She gave with no expectations of acknowledgment or reward other than the satisfaction of seeing her money [advance] the children’s education and learning.”
The Angell Foundation
In 1996, David and Lynn created a family foundation to administer their philanthropic efforts. As their financial commitments continued to grow, they still maintained their personal connections to the organizations they had always quietly supported through contributions and volunteer efforts. David’s sister Claire Angell Miller remembers, “As they became highly successful, they often talked about the best way to help other people. They did not believe in just giving others money-- they endeavored to give others a helping hand to put them on [a path to success.]” Empowerment would become a core value of their newly formed foundation.
On September 11, 2001, David and Lynn were returning home to Los Angeles from a family wedding in Cape Cod when their hijacked plane hit the World Trade Center.