Friday, September 14, 2012

Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation

 Ed Cone sends the following correction:

Sigmund Sternberger did not found Revolution Mill. His father, Herman, and uncle, Emanuel Sternberger, were brought in by the Cones to help fund it and run it as part of the company that became Cone Mills.

The Emanuel Sternberger mansion (his uncle's former home) served as a women's and children's hospital for a couple of decades.

The Sternberger family in Greensboro is represented today by descendants of the two brothers, the Benjamins and the Tannenbaums. Sigmund, who did not have children of his own, is memorialized by the foundation that bears his name and that of his niece.

Begin original post:

The Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation is older than me by 1 year. Originally formed in 1955 as the Sigmund Sternberger Foundation, it was renamed in 1991 as the Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation. I've no idea why Sigmund was thrown out.

The charter of the Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation states that their purpose is to "be operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals."

I'm happy to say their board of directors is easily available for everyone to see. Why so many local foundations and non profits keep their boards hidden still remains a mystery to me.

According to their IRS Form 990, with the exception of their paid executive director, the board members are unpaid, average working 1 hour per week and receive no benefits. The only thing that concerns me about the Tannenbaum Sternberger Foundation is donations to Action Greensboro for $60,000 and $70,000 in 2011 and $185,000 in 2010. What does $315,000 given to Action Greensboro have to do with "religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes, or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.?"

And Ed, is it true you've been a board member since 2008 or before? I was under the impression you only recently joined the board but the IRS form 990s indicate otherwise.

Update: Ed e-mails me the following: "I'm terrible at remembering when things happened but it's been a while since I joined the TSF board. I wrote this nearly seven years ago but couldn't tell you how long I'd been doing it at that point." I can easily accept that as part of the reason folks like Ed and I blog is to keep records so that we don't have to rely on failing memories. Speaking of memories...

I had heard about the fight by the Tannenbaum family to seize the assets of the late Sigmund Sternberger's foundation but it was only when I stumbled upon it in North Carolina case law that my memory was jogged. Turns out many of the members of the Tannenbaum family were forced from the board. From the case law text:

" Rabbi Joseph Asher; L. Richardson Preyer, a former judge of the Superior Court of this State and a former United States District Judge who resigned to run for Governor; and Bryce R. Holt, a lawyer of great experience and a former United States District Attorney. The lawyers who participated in the proposed settlement, Cooke & Cooke; Norman Block; McLendon, Brim, Brooks, Pierce & Daniels; Jordan, Wright, Henson & Nichols; Smith, Moore, Smith, Schell & Hunter; Stern, Rendleman & Clark -- all counsel of record in the trial court, and many of counsel here -- are among the foremost lawyers in North Carolina for character and professional ability. The record is replete with their careful protection of the interests of their clients, and we are confident that none of them would have participated in a settlement that did not protect the interests of the infant defendants.

In fairness to Sidney J. Stern, Jr., we quote the last paragraph from his brief, which is as follows:

"The result of the contract in the case involved here is substantially to preserve the charitable trust intact against a proposed dangerous caveat which, if successful, would destroy the trust and, even if unsuccessful, might well end in costing the Foundation more than does the fulfillment of the contract. There is nothing in the corporate charter, by-laws, or other governing documents of the corporation which would prevent the fulfillment of the contract if court approval is obtained. We believe that this contract is so manifestly in the best interests of the charitable corporation that the directors not only had the power and authority to enter into the contract, but they would have been derelict in their duty had they not done so. However, because of the extreme importance of this matter to the parties and to the public generally, we feel that the contract should receive the approval of this Court."

We agree with Mr. Stern's statement that because of the extreme importance of this matter to the parties and to the public generally the contract of settlement should receive the approval of this Court.

The Attorney General in his brief raises the question as to his right to intervene in this proceeding to approve a settlement where a charitable trust is the main beneficiary. G.S. 36-35 provides that where an action is pending against a trustee of a charitable trust, the Attorney General must be notified before disposition may be made of the case. It is not necessary for us to determine the question the Attorney General raises here to reach a decision in this case. It seems that the State as parents patrioe, through its Attorney General, has the common law right and power to protect the beneficiaries of charitable trusts and the property to which they are or may be entitled."

I'm not sure how the Tannenbaum family managed to get themselves reseated to the board of the Sigmund Sternberger Foundation but it becomes quite obvious that kicking ol' Sigmund to the curb and replacing him with the Tannenbaum family name at top billing was revenge at worst or at best a sordid attempt to raise the validity of the Tannenbaum family name.

Of course, what's really saddest about this entire messy affair isn't what the Tannenbaum family did to the old man who made it possible for them to live in North Carolina's wealthiest neighborhoods. What's saddest is the fact that they completely forgot the people who worked lifetimes in the northeast Greensboro textile mill Mr Sternberger built from stone mined from a rock quarry on Phillips Avenue and whose remains now rest in a grave yard also on Phillips Avenue. You see, while unknown to most, Revolution Mill on Yanceyville Street was built not by the Cone Brothers but by Sigmund Sternberger. The Cone Brothers bought it later.

And the Tannenbaum family, like all of Greensboro's wealthy, forget the communities who lived and died making them wealthy while investing in downtown monuments to their friends and families. But a few of us old men, we remember. And we blog so we don't forget-- ever.


  1. Sidney Stern has no character and anything he says is to benefit himself in someway. If you are his friend or think you are his friend he would leave you to die in a gutter if it benefited him. He has done that to people in his actually family so I wouldn't put too much weight on what he has to say.

  2. Comments coming from Anonymous Cowards carry no weight. You are no doubt typical of Greensboro's cowardly elite who have long hid in the shadows pulling the strings and expecting others to do your dirty work.

    And frankly, I know nothing about Sidney J. Stern except for his involvement in preventing the Tannenbaum family from pocketing the foundation's assets like the greedy pigs the court proved them to be.

    Now if you'd like to continue this discussion I can move this dated post to the front page were even more will read it. Or you can slink away like the snake you are. Your call.


Please remember, a more delicate type of reader my see what you say.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.