A Gift To The Community…
The following article is from The Press Democrat, Sonoma County and the Redwood Empire’s regional newspaper.
It all started with Benny Friedman and his road from rags and ditches to hardware and riches. What started out as a junk, scrap metal and used furniture business on the banks of the Petaluma River in the 1940s has turned Friedman and his family into leading philanthropists in Sonoma County.
Born in Santa Rosa, Benny Friedman dropped out of high school at age 14 to work and support his widowed mother, sister and two younger brothers.
Returning home from service in World War II, he and his brothers went from being salvage merchants to entrepreneurs by reconditioning used goods and using the money to buy stock for a burgeoning hardware business.
In 1970, the Friedman brothers closed the Petaluma store and made their south Santa Rosa Avenue site into a hardware emporium, capitalizing on home repair long before it became a weekend ritual.
But when it comes to civic involvement, it seems Benny Friedman’s approach is, “If you’ve got it, give it.” He was one of the original “donating dozen” civic leaders who rescued the Christian Life Center from bankruptcy in 1981 and delivered it as a present to the arts and culture community as the Luther Burbank Center of the Arts.
Although Benny Friedman passed the family business to his son more than a decade ago, he has not taken the easy road to retirement. In 1990, his family funded Friedman Center as a gathering place for social and fundraising affairs.
Today, Friedman Center still remains one of the most popular facilities to have special events, where memories are made to last a lifetime.