Through Scholarships, A Tradition of Philanthropy Endures

Jul 08, 2019

(pictured above: William Carlson, left, and his daughter Ruth Carlson Horn, right, were devoted supporters of the arts and education in Bridgeport.)

One of Bridgeport’s most celebrated patrons of the arts, Ruth Carlson Horn inherited a vibrant spirit of philanthropy from her father. Today, the Ruth Carlson Horn Scholarship Fund at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation continues the family history of giving back.

When Ruth’s father, William Carlson, emigrated to America in 1907, he had never attended school and couldn’t read, write or speak English. Yet he and his brother Philip found opportunity in Bridgeport, opening a wagon shop and making their fortune by inventing a truck body that revolutionized the industry.

To give back to the country that gave them everything, William and his brother Philip established the Carlson Foundation. William made generous donations to institutions like the University of Bridgeport, the Jewish Community Center and more.

Ruth, widowed at a young age, found solace in continuing this philanthropy. A founding member of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, she left an indelible mark on the city’s cultural history by bringing noted composers, musicians and fine art to the region.

She also continued the mission of the Carlson Foundation, striving to pass along her deep love of the arts and help young people pursue their studies. The Ruth Carlson Horn Scholarship helps students in the Greater Bridgeport area achieve higher education. The work was both rewarding for Ruth and beneficial to the scholarship recipients, recalls Ruth’s granddaughter, Kim Elstein Atkinson.

“Ruth invited them to her home, and made lifelong connections with some,” says Kim. “The scholarships help keep her legacy alive, and I’m happy to represent the fourth generation of the family in continuing the tradition of supporting cultural and educational enrichment.”

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