Heirs donate proceeds from sale of Piedmont home to charity foundation

Randy Kessler grew up in a house full of love, a house where family and friends gathered often — and a house where he learned from his parents the importance of charitable giving. Now the house itself is a gift.

Kessler’s father, Leslie, died in December 2006. When his mother, Alice, died in April, the family home in Piedmont sold in just three weeks, and the proceeds went directly to the L&A Kessler Family Foundation to ensure that the family’s tradition of giving would continue.

“It is a very special house, relatively large, on a half-acre with a pool and play yard,” Kessler, 59, said. “My mother and dad often held big charity events at the house, especially for the Jewish federation and the synagogue, and it was a great place to grow up.”

Leslie and Alice Kessler

Kessler, a lawyer who lives in Piedmont with his family, just three blocks from his childhood home, added: “My parents created the foundation in 2005 because they wanted to make sure there was a perpetual mechanism for donations to organizations they wanted to support.”

Kessler is a partner in Kessler & Kessler in Alameda, a law firm his father founded. His wife, Jan, is retired from the Shaklee Corp., where she worked as director of real estate. “We have a mixed marriage,” Kessler said, laughing. “We are affiliated with both Temple Beth Abraham and Temple Sinai in Oakland.”

The elder Kesslers set up their foundation with the Jewish Community Foundation of the East Bay, which collaborates with the Jewish Feder-ation of the East Bay in Oakland. The L&A Kessler Family Foundation is one of 11 supporting foundations managed by the Jewish Community Foundation.

“Once both Kesslers had passed, the Kessler Foundation hired a Realtor to sell the house,” said Lisa Tabak, executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation. “The beauty of giving your house to a charitable foundation is that it is such a wonderful way to enable your heirs to continue your legacy.”

The L&A Kessler Family Foundation has supported numerous organizations in the past, including the annual campaign for the East Bay federation, Temple Beth Abraham, the Home for Jewish Parents in Danville, the Judah L. Magnes Museum in Berkeley, and the food programs at St. Anthony Dining Room and Glide Memorial Church, both in San Francisco.

Kessler said his family’s foundation will continue to support some of those organizations, and some may be replaced by other organizations. “Two of the directors of the foundation are myself and my daughter, Gina Kessler Lee, so hopefully the next generation will take over after I am no longer serving,” he said. “That way, the family can continue to help support more organizations.”

In addition to the couple’s 28-year-old daughter, the Kesslers have a son, Andrew, 23, a recent graduate of UCLA. Kessler’s brother, Gary, lives in Newport Beach, Calif.

He added, “The first part of our lives, my parents took care of us. Then they helped us care for our children. For the last 10 years, I was helping take care of them — visiting, arranging for caregivers and whatever they needed.”

When cleaning out the house prior to the sale, Kessler found another tie to his past that will influence his future. “We found a letter from my mother’s father that detailed where my mother was born in Italy and where she lived,” he said. “Next spring, my wife and I are heading to Trieste. We know exactly what street and what building to go to, all because of that letter.” 

Patricia Corrigan

Patricia Corrigan is a longtime newspaper reporter, book author and freelance writer based in San Francisco.