The Selbys

The Couple

William Selby was born February 1, 1884 in Marietta, Ohio. Marie Minshall was born on August 9, 1885 in Wood County, West Virginia.  When Marie was young, her family moved to Marietta, Ohio. 

William and Marie married on January 31, 1908 in Marietta.  Around the turn of the century, William‘s father formed the Selby Oil and Gas Company. It soon became one of the country‘s principal oil drilling farms. In 1948, the company merged with Texaco.

In the first year of their marriage, the Selbys followed with keen interest the first transcontinental automobile race between Seattle and New York City. They decided to travel the course themselves and loaded their touring car with spare parts and camping equipment. They made the trip in six fewer days than the winning car in the race. Marie Selby became the first woman to cross the country by automobile.

The Selbys started visiting Sarasota in 1909 and lived in their houseboat before moving to their bayfront home. Bill was a sportsman, who spent his leisure time hunting and fishing.  They built a house in the mid-twenties amid the Cuban Laurels and banyan trees on a five-acre tract located on Sarasota Bay. This two-story stucco house, intended to be temporary, became their home on a permanent basis. Marie directed much of the landscaping on the grounds, planting extensive flowerbeds to enhance the native vegetation.  

Their Values

The Selbys’ Core Values were established based upon:  Interviews with those individuals who personally knew the Selbys; interviews with those who knew of the Selbys; interviews with those who have worked with and for the Foundation since its inception; and review of all prior minutes and documentation supporting the creation and operation of the Foundation.  

Based upon this research, the specific Core Values of the Selbys are identified below:

A virtue  associated with basic ethics of altruism derived from the human condition.

The Selbys demonstrated that they cared for and about people in general, and especially for those known to them. They cared about equal opportunity for all. They believed that regular acts of kindness, no matter how great or small, do make a difference in the world.

The state of being humble.  Humble can be used to describe what is ranked low by others, as in “persons of humble origins.” … When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

The Selbys lived simply, quietly, modestly, and below their means. They did not seek recognition or fanfare in their lives or as a result of their charitable giving.

An ethical framework and suggests that an entity, be it an organization or individual, has an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large.

The Selbys believed in educating others to provide them with better opportunities to improve their lives and the lives of others. They believed in taking care of one’s community, especially Sarasota County and the surrounding counties.

To make changes or to do something differently.

The Selbys looked for opportunities to bring about positive change in their community and were willing to invest in new methods, ideas or products to bring about that positive change.

The act of caring for or improving with time.

The Foundation was established to reduce the Selby’s substantial tax burden on their assets.  The professionals they chose, whether legal, accounting or banking, were individuals known to the Selbys and they maintained the ability to retain or terminate them according to the needs/goals of the Foundation.  The Selbys expected reasonable fees for all services.  The Foundation was to be administratively operated in accordance with established best practices and financial standards, and it was organized to maintain its independence and the ability to direct its future.  The Foundation was clearly established to be maintained in perpetuity.

The Foundation

Mr. Selby died in December of 1956, however, one year prior to his death, he set up the Charitable Trust with $3,000,000. Mr. Selby set up the trust because he wished to help young people. In his oil business, he encountered a great number of young men with untapped potential who were handicapped by lack of technical education. Not having children of their own, the Selbys were concerned about young people. They wanted to use their money to help the youth of future generations. 

After Mr. Selby‘s death, Marie Selby became heavily involved with the activities of the Foundation and encouraged giving to a variety of charitable organizations. She often matched a grant from the Foundation with an equal gift from her own resources. 

Marie Selby died in 1971 at the age of 86. She left her home and five acres for the development of a botanical garden.  This property later became part of the world-renowned Marie Selby Botanical Gardens (this is a separate entity from the Foundation).  She left $2,000,000 to provide an endowment for the gardens to help support the operation and maintenance. The balance of her $16,500,000 estate was left to the Foundation.

USF Class of 1982-83, Selby Scholars

The William G. and Marie Selby Foundation has made a significant impact on the lives of thousands of young people and on the operation of hundreds of charitable organizations. Two significant contributions to the Foundation, one in 1955 and one in 1972, totaling $19,500,000 have made possible financial assistance to individuals and organizations in excess of $120,000,000. At the same time, the corpus of the Foundation has been preserved and today has a market value of over $72,000,000. This insures a continuing contribution of nearly $3,000,000 a year for scholarships and grants to benefit the local community.

Stories from the people who knew them