History

John R. Oishei Book CoverRead below about our founder John R. Oishei, or previous Oishei Foundation leaders. You may also view our detailed history book on John R. Oishei and the creation of the Foundation.

John R. Oishei (1886-1968)

John R. Oishei's role in the development of the automobile windshield wiper was the result of a harrowing accident in 1916. Oishei was driving along Delaware Avenue near Virginia Street in downtown Buffalo in a rainstorm when a bicyclist ran into the National Roadster he was driving at the time. Oishei never saw him coming, and although the cyclist was not seriously injured, Oishei vowed to never let that happen again. He sought out the best technology available at the time to create the first automobile wiper blades and grew the idea from a storefront cottage industry to world-wide patented acclaim. 1917, John R. Oishei founded Trico Products Corporation (headquartered in Buffalo), which eventually became one of the world's leading manufacturers of automotive windshield wiping equipment. Mr. Oishei established the Foundation, formerly known as the Julia R. and Estelle L. Foundation, in 1940; thereafter he funded it with annual contributions and with charitable remainder trusts. The principal assets of the Foundation also include the assets of the estates of Mr. Oishei's son, R. John Oishei and his wife Jean, and his daughter, Patricia Oishei Colby.

Mr. Oishei served as President of the Foundation from its founding until his death in 1968. Under his leadership, the Foundation concentrated its support to hospitals and schools in the Buffalo area with the balance being directed to cultural and social services needs. Until 1997, all Foundation contributions were made on an anonymous basis. This was consistent with the procedures Mr. Oishei followed with regard to the substantial charitable gifts he personally made during his lifetime. His penchant for total anonymity was driven by his strong sense of modesty and of equally strong belief that anonymity allowed him to make his philanthropic decisions with greater objectivity.

Mr. Oishei was devoted to the Buffalo community. It was there that he built Trico into the city's largest private employer. His appreciation of Buffalo and its citizens, particularly those who became employees of Trico, was the basis of his strong desire that the work of the Foundation be directed to Buffalo-connected activities.

In Recognition of Outstanding Leadership

Rupert Warren (1908-1998)

Rupert Warren (1908-1998)

Mr. Warren began working at Trico Products Corporation in 1944 and served as President from 1968 to 1972. His responsibilities with the Foundation spanned a period of 57 years, beginning with his role as legal advisor and concluding with his service as President of the Foundation. Mr. Warren's exceptional investment skills contributed significantly to the growth of the Foundation's assets. Under his careful management and sound judgment, the Foundation awarded millions of dollars in grants for the benefit of the Buffalo area community. Mr. Warren retired from the Foundation in 1997.

 

Richard L. Wolf (1935-1998)

Richard L. Wolf (1935-1998)

Mr. Wolf joined Trico Products Corporation in 1972 as General Counsel and became President and Chief Operating Executive. He succeeded R. John Oishei, son of the founder, as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Following his retirement from the company in 1994, he worked with Mr. Warren at the Foundation and upon Mr. Warren's retirement, became its Chairman and President. His energy, vision and passion for the potential role the Foundation could play in the lives of Buffalo area residents led to the transition from the Julia R. and Estelle L. Foundation to The John R. Oishei Foundation in 1998.

 

Thomas E. Baker

Mr. Thomas Baker was president of The John R. Oishei Foundation from 1998 through 2006. Under Mr. Baker’s leadership, the Oishei Foundation distinguished itself through its support of a broad range of education, healthcare, scientific research, cultural, social and civic endeavors. He retired at the end of 2006 and continued his involvement with the Foundation as a member of the Board of Directors until 2012. Previously, Tom spent 33 years at Price Waterhouse rising through the ranks to become managing partner of the Buffalo office. Mr. Baker serves or has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, including, but not limited to the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Mercy Health System of Western New York, the Leukemia Society of Western New York, the Education Fund for Greater Buffalo, Canisius College and the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise. He served as chairman of the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority (BFSA) from July of 2003 through January, 2005. During that period, he led a volunteer nine-member board in its effort to help guide the City of Buffalo back to a position of fiscal health.