31 Mar 2015
March 31, 2015

Q Center Donor Spotlight: Ed Cauduro 

March 31, 2015

Q Center’s single largest donor never liked attention. That’s why this Oregon native who assembled one of the finest contemporary art collections in the state never flaunted that fact or talked about it much. That’s why he didn’t seek credit when he generously supported his favorite charitable causes and institutions including Q Center.

People may have met Cauduro but few knew him well or intimately. He was known only to a select handful. That’s the way Cauduro liked it, according to Dane Nelson of Portland, his closest friend and the executor of his estate.

Cauduro, through the Ed Cauduro Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, contributed nearly $750,000 to Q Center since 2008.

His philanthropy purposefully engaged and ignited other donors. It was Cauduro, with encouragement from Dane Nelson and Dane’s former partner, Aaron Hall (a founding Q Center board member and former board chair), who initiated a catalytic $200,000 matching grant in the summer of 2008 that helped raise the funds necessary for Q Center to first lease and later renovate its current location. In three short months, just over $200,000 was raised and generously matched by Cauduro. His efforts helped raise the public profile of the still emerging Q Center and engaged hundreds of donors giving a few dollars each to individuals and organizations donating thousands more.

More recently, Dane went even further. In 2013, he generously loaned Q Center $350,000 – which was critical bridge financing allowing Q Center to purchase its current home on N. Mississippi Avenue. His loan, coupled with financing from Pacific Continental Bank, cemented the purchase of Q Center’s current home.

Cauduro, who was gay, came into a world where awareness of and support for LGBTQ people was far from what it is today. He was born in Portland to parents who emigrated to the U.S. from Italy. Growing up in Portland in the 1930s and 1940s, both Cauduro and his parents faced discrimination for being Italian. Later, he studied art at the University of Oregon. He also ran an antique store and worked in advertising.

Cauduro came of age in a time when gay men were not vocal about their sexuality. Still, he was demonstrative in his own way in his later years. In addition to Q Center, Cauduro funded many organizations supporting LGBTQ people including Basic Rights Oregon, New Avenues for Youth, Sexual Minority Youth Recreation Center (SMYRC), Outside In, P:ear, TransActive Gender Center and The Trevor Project, said Dane Nelson.

Nelson, meanwhile, continues to be generous in other ways. An avid Italian glass collector and world traveler, Nelson has designed the interior of his home to complement the vibrant colors of the work that he collects.

From February 20 through May 16, 2015, Nelson is sharing his collection with the public. It will be on display at the Museum of Contemporary Craft as Living with Glass. The exhibit features works of glass created on the island of Murano in Venice, Italy. “This exhibit is really a tribute to my good friend Ed Cauduro,” Nelson told Oregon Public Broadcasting earlier. “He really did so much for this city [Portland], and I think this exhibit is a way of honoring him.”

Dane Nelson remembers his best friend as a private person who didn’t seek out services or support from Q Center during his life. But, Nelson said, Cauduro generously supported Q Center because he believed it was important for the services and support to be available for people who did need the support or help.

“The investments made in Q Center by Ed and Dane over the past seven years have been transformative but done quietly,” said Bob Speltz, a former Q Center board member. “I speak for everyone at Q Center when I say we are beyond grateful for their support. We would not be here as an organization if not for their support.”