The Weidner Foundation was established through the generosity of John and Naomi Weidner in 1993 and 1994, and was entrusted with the mission of carrying forward John Weidner’s legacy. The Foundation was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the State of Massachusetts in 1996. Originally centered at Atlantic Union College, the Foundation was gifted by John and Naomi Weidner with a large collection of documents and artifacts related to Weidner’s life and the Dutch-Paris escape line of World War II.
In addition to serving as guardians of the Weidner Collection, the Foundation’s mission from its inception was to serve as a living tribute to Weidner’s legacy by cultivating altruistic service to humanity. In its earliest vision statements, the Foundation’s board members expressed a desire to see Weidner student chapters formed across the United States, and to establish a Weidner humanitarian prize.
During the Foundation’s first decade, vital leadership was provided by several people who knew Weidner personally, including Lawrence Geraty, Bert Beach, Frank Mazzaglia, and Alberto Sbacchi. Others who have also served in important leadership and other roles on the Foundation’s board or as friends to the Foundation include: Naomi Weidner, who remained one of the Foundation’s strongest supporters and advocates until passing away in 2020; long-time Executive Director of the Foundation, Kurt Ganter; Rabbi Malka Drucker; Michael Goldware; Norman and Winona Wendth; and Willy Hijmans.
Dr. Sbacchi was the first President of the Foundation and served as the original curator of the Weidner Collection. A respected historian of European history, the author of six books, and the recipient of the prestigious Knighthood of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic for his contributions to Italian culture, Dr. Sbacchi conducted extensive interviews and research in both Europe and the United States with the goal of publishing a biography of Weidner.