Through her gift to create the France Hughes Meindl Endowed Fund for Music, France Meindl established a legacy of support for two sources of much happiness in her life—music and the Caltech community.
“It’s one thing to participate in social activities, and another thing to feel like you’re really part of a community,” says Meindl, who created a charitable remainder trust (CRT) to help ensure that Caltech’s music program will continue to thrive for generations to come.
Meindl was born and raised in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she studied piano and ballet. While visiting the United States in 1958, she met her future husband. They put down roots in Altadena in 1960. But it wasn’t until she sought a Suzuki-method teacher for their four children that she found a sense of belonging. “The teacher needed a studio, and I offered her my house because I had a grand piano,” Meindl says. “It was the perfect environment. And that was the start of it.”
The Suzuki method soon connected Meindl to Caltech families whose children were also young musicians: In this teaching approach, children regularly participate in group lessons and performances. As time went on, her Caltech friendships grew, and she got involved with the Caltech Associates. With the Caltech’s Women’s Club, she has enjoyed leading architectural tours of campus and participating in book discussion groups, and she delights in spending time with friends as she advances her culinary skills in Athenaeum cooking classes.
“Being part of an international community has always been to my liking,” she says. “And there are people from all over the world at Caltech—really kind-hearted, good people who also happen to be brilliant scientists.”
Over the years, Meindl has enjoyed visiting Caltech to attend Earnest C. Watson Lectures and tour faculty labs, witnessing breakthroughs in the making. But chamber music performances top the list of her favorite experiences on campus. From the very first concert she attended, Meindl was a Caltech chamber music devotee.
Meindl has supported many visual and performing arts organizations. To name just a few, she has served as a docent for the Gamble House and the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. She was a founding member of the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra and is a patron of the Camerata Pacifica ensemble, the Crescendo Young Musicians Guild, and the Colburn School of Music. But the Caltech chamber music ensembles have a special place in her heart.
Working with Caltech’s Office of Gift Planning, she established a trust that will support Caltech’s music program in the future. Meanwhile, the CRT provides an income stream for Meindl, who worked as a real estate professional for more than 40 years. As an added bonus, the CRT—which was funded through the sale of a property Meindl had owned that had greatly appreciated in value—helped her direct money to her favorite cause instead of to capital gains tax.
“As I see it, a gift to Caltech’s music program benefits both music lovers and musicians,” Meindl says. “It’s good for Caltech scholars to balance hard science with music. I would say it could only improve their ability to focus on their research—so in that way, the gift also indirectly supports science.”