By: Maury Harris

E.W. and Mary Firstenburg turned a small, rural bank into the region’s largest locally owned, privately held financial institution. First Independent Bank was also known for its blend of customer and community service, providing countless hours of volunteerism and corporate contributions to local causes.

E.W. and Mary Firstenburg smile for the camera.

E.W. and Mary led by example, donating tens of millions to local projects and nonprofits. As a result, the Firstenburg name is etched into many civic landmarks across Clark County. There is an iconic fountain at Washington State University Vancouver, a thriving community center in East Vancouver and a gleaming patient tower at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center to name a few. But the couple’s philanthropy is bigger than buildings, by leaps and bounds.

Their quiet contributions were some of the most significant. One example came in 1986 when E.W. and Mary opened the first family fund at the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington with a $101,000 gift. Instead of granting these funds elsewhere, the Firstenburgs chose to support our early operations and grantmaking.

The move was instrumental, ultimately providing the first direct gifts to what became the Administrative Endowment Fund and Community Giving Fund.

Today, The Firstenburg Foundation continues their philanthropic legacy by investing in nonprofits making measurable improvements to the economic conditions and quality of life in southwest Washington.

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About The Author

Maury Harris

Maury Harris crafts key messages that promote the foundation’s products, services and brand. Outside of stringing words together, he is passionate about the natural world and tries to hit the trail as much as possible with his family.