It is often said that legacies outlive those who forge them. In the case of the Golden Flake founders, the Bashinsky family’s philanthropic legacy is sure to leave a positive impact on the Yellowhammer State for generations.
Golden Flake decades ago became a staple of snack foods in the southern United States. Now, Alabama legends Sloan and Joann Bashinsky’s charitable desires will positively affect the state’s youth for decades to come.
The Bashinsky Foundation and Sloan Y. Bashinsky, Sr. Marital Trust are set to donate over $32 million to four Alabama institutions. According to the foundation, the University of Alabama, Auburn University, Samford University and Big Oak Ranch are expected to receive over $8 million each in donations from the foundation and trust.
Until his death in 2005, Sloan Bashinsky served as longtime CEO and board chairman of Golden Enterprises, Inc. and Golden Flake Snack Foods, Inc.
Upon cutting his teeth in the industry, Bashinsky purchased what was then known as Magic City Food Products from his father and uncle, who had owned the company since 1946. Once ascending to president, he changed the company’s name to Golden Flake, Inc.
Bashinsky in 1986 established the Bashinsky Foundation to grant charity and contribute to entities the family saw that were making significant impact in the lives of their employees and customers. Upon Bashinsky’s death, his wife Joann assumed the role of chairman of the foundation board.
Prior to her death earlier this year, Joann Bashinsky continued the family’s charitable work by providing generous support to numerous community-based nonprofits and institutions.
In announcing the donations, longtime Bashinsky family lawyer, foundation board member and trustee of the marital trust John McKleroy outlined the family’s commitment to furthering education in the state of Alabama.
“Mr. Bashinsky saw education as a tremendous tool for building up society,” said McKleroy. “The foundation has been a large financial supporter of Alabama, Auburn, Samford, and the Big Oak Ranch, among other educational entities and non-profits. I witnessed the family’s generosity firsthand, and it’s inspiring now to see the lasting impact their generosity will have on future generations of students.”
According to a release, of the organization’s gifts over the past six years alone, $4.2 million had gone to support academia. Nearly $4 million of the donations had gone to Auburn University, Big Oak Ranch, Samford University and the University of Alabama.
Monies gifted to the entities have funded the Bashinsky Computer Lab at the University of Alabama, the Bashinsky Field House & Press Box at Samford University, and the Girls’ Boutique at Big Oak Ranch.
McKleroy continued, “In addition to his charitable foundation, Mr. Bashinsky left a large portion of his estate in trust so that at his wife’s death, his estate would pass to these important institutions they both supported. Those of us who were entrusted to carry out the Bashinsky’s charitable desires are privileged to get to see their legacy live on in these important institutions in our State.”
Bashinsky Foundation board member and long-serving Golden Flake employee Jim Ward detailed Sloan Bashinsky’s values which he maintained lives on through the company to this day.
“Mr. B certainly understood the snack food business, but more than that, he had a deep appreciation for the employees and customers who made the company what it was,” proclaimed Ward. “He lived by the Golden Rule, and that was reflected in his business and his charitable activities. ‘Golden Rule Rulers’ can still be found over select doors of the Birmingham plant, even now.”
The foundation advised that the Bashinsky family over the years had provided hundreds of collegiate scholarships to Golden Flake employees’ children.
Patty Townsend, Golden Flake CEO and current Bashinsky Foundation board member, made mention of the family’s generous sentiments toward charity.
“Mr. and Mrs. Bashinsky were two of the most generous, lovely people I have ever known, and working for them was a great privilege,” declared Townsend. “In addition to the institutions they supported, not everyone knows this, but they also provided college scholarships to hundreds of employees’ children over the years. They wanted children in our communities to be able to build a solid foundation, and that support began with our own Golden Flake families. That is their great legacy and how they will be remembered. It’s wonderful to see the Foundation continuing the work the Bashinskys set in motion, supporting these four important institutions in our state.”
Yellowhammer News spoke with Big Oak Ranch executive director Brodie Croyle, who asserted that the Bashinsky family’s generosity extended well beyond financial donations.
“To me, the legacy of the Bashinsky family goes way beyond financial blessing. Obviously, they were blessed immensely and they were incredible brokers of that blessing,” said Croyle.
He went on to note the Bashinskys’ influence on Big Oak Ranch, which serves the needs of Alabama youth by providing faith-based care and educational services. Croyle added that it was an honor for the ranch “to be considered financially” and also noted the family’s non-financial charity.
“The investment that the family made, not just with their money but with their time, into our ministry, into our organization, into our family, and into our children most importantly – that’s a legacy that will live on forever,” he concluded.
According to Randy Pittman, Samford University vice president of advancement, the Bashinskys over the decades had been one of the institution’s top contributing families.
“[I]t goes back decades with Mr. Sloan Bashinsky, who was a very active benefactor here at Samford during his lifetime,” Pittman told Yellowhammer News. “We actually have two building structures on our campus named for the Bashinsky family in recognition of their significant contributions over the years. In more recent years since Mr. Bashinsky’s death, Mrs. B was involved here in two or three different ways.”
Pittman noted that supporting students through scholarship funding was “very near and dear” to Joann Bashinsky.
He added, “She wanted to help see students get an education knowing that it could really make a huge difference in their lives for decades to come. She was very generous in her giving in that regard.”
Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL