Harold Matzner was a man of many talents. He is remembered as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and civic leader who made a lasting impact on the Palm Springs area. Harold’s contributions were vast and diverse from supporting the local arts to providing educational opportunities for children. More info on Harold can be found in various publications throughout the Coachella Valley.
Early life and business achievements
Harold Matzner was born in 1938 in Brooklyn, New York. After graduating from college with a degree in marketing, he moved to California, eventually settling in Palm Springs. It was here that Harold began to build his business empire, investing in real estate and opening several successful restaurants, including Melvyn’s Restaurant & Lounge and Mr. Lyons Steakhouse. By the time of his death in 2018 at the age of 79, he had amassed a great deal of wealth, which allowed him to become one of the most generous donors to charitable causes in the Coachella Valley.
Throughout his life, Harold was committed to giving back to his community through charitable donations and other forms of support. He served on numerous boards, including the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum; McCallum Theatre; Annenberg Foundation; Eisenhower Medical Center; College of the Desert; Art Museum Council; Jewish Federation Council; Friends of Animal Services; Desert AIDS Project; and many others. His generosity extended beyond financial contributions – he also donated items from his personal collections, such as works of art and rare books, which are now housed in various museums throughout the Valley.
Support for education
Harold was particularly passionate about education and worked tirelessly to ensure that students had access to quality learning experiences. In 2004, he established the Harold Matzner Education Endowment Fund (HMEF), which has provided $2 million in scholarships over 15 years to local high school graduates pursuing higher education at College of the Desert or other accredited institutions in California or Nevada. Each scholarship recipient receives up to $20,000 per year towards tuition and fees, as well as mentorship opportunities with HMEF staff throughout their academic journey.
Impact on the arts and cultural scene
In addition to funding educational initiatives, Harold has made a significant contribution to the arts in Palm Springs through organizations such as the Palm Springs Art Museum (PSAM). In 2010, PSAM opened its Art & Architecture Center, thanks in large part to major grants from Mr. Matzner himself and proceeds from an auction held in his honor at PSAM’s annual gala event known as “The Gala” (formerly “The Spectacular”). This center has gone on to present exhibitions of works by contemporary artists such as Yayoi Kusama alongside classic masters such as Marc Chagall, and PSAM continues to honor this legacy by presenting programs inspired by these artists each year at its signature Spring Gala event in May.
Legacy lives on
Harold passed away peacefully surrounded by family members in October 2018 after a long battle with illness, but his legacy lives on through various initiatives throughout the Coachella Valley funded by HMEF or other foundations established in his name, such as the Annenberg Foundation or the College Of The Desert Foundation. His commitment to creating meaningful change lives on in all those he touched directly or indirectly through these organizations, ensuring that future generations will benefit as much, if not more, than we do today.