Last year my wife and I had a travel feature assignment and headed to New England to research those famous Fall season colors and soon learned why everyone should consider adding this trip to their travel bucket list. And we also discovered an amazingly interesting human interest story that connected our home area of California’s high-tech Silicon Valley with the engaging state of Maine.
After flying into Boston, one of our first stops, just a couple of hours drive north, was the picturesque Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine a few miles west of Portland where the Fall colors were already on glorious display. This former campus has been converted into a 5,000 acre working farm, diverse business complex, unique travel destination, plus an exceptional meeting and recreational venue. Pineland’s distinctive development is one of those one-of-a-kind locations for small group meetings, reunions and family getaways and special features include: historic home choices for lodging; state-of-the-art conference center; jogging/cross country skiing/snowshoeing/sledding/mountain biking trails; tennis courts; country market/deli; onsite catering; orienteering; and more. Educational visits to their Pineland Farms Creamery, home to award winning cheeses and their world class Equestrian Center specializing in Olympic dressage training are other hallmarks.
And here’s the surprising connection to Silicon Valley: Pineland Farms is owned by the non-profit Libra Foundation founded by Mrs. Elizabeth “Betty” Noyce, former wife of Robert Noyce, known as the unofficial mayor of Silicon Valley until his death. He was one of two scientists credited with developing the integrated circuit(microchip) which laid the computer industry’s foundation and co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957 and the tech world giant Intel in 1968.
While living in Silicon Valley, the family acquired a beautiful 50 acre coastal property in Bremen, Maine where Betty and their four children would spend their summers. Mr. Noyce, however, usually stayed home in California during those summers continuing to nurture Intel with his visionary savvy.
When the Noyces divorced in 1974, Betty moved permanently to their Maine summer home after reportedly receiving half of the couple’s vast fortune under California’s community property law. And within a short time she practically adopted her new home state by becoming Maine’s most active and devoted philanthropist. Over the years Mrs. Noyce and her Libra Foundation, which she founded in 1989 and totally funded, have contributed millions of dollars to a large variety of Maine causes in addition to Pineland Farms. When she passed away in 1996 nearly 2000 people attended her memorial services including then current Maine Governor Angus King plus three past state governors and Past President George Bush with former First Lady Barbara. Governor King remarked at the service: “She gave many thousands of Maine people the dignity of a job and brought the State’s largest city (Portland) back to life. She will always be with us.” Over the years, she has been credited with responding to most any cause, charity or public institution in Maine that needed money. Her major contributions included a large variety of public causes in such fields as medicine, education, the arts, and our environment. These type donations included the University of Maine, a children’s hospital, the Maine Maritime Academy, endowments for charitable trusts, and numerous museums. She also pioneered what she referred to as “catalytic philanthropy” which were investments she made to bolster the state’s economy. Her under-writings greatly assisted Maine’s dairy, potato, banking and shipbuilding industries to name a few. The Pineland development could become Mrs. Noyce’s greatest ongoing “catalytic philanthropic” gift to Maine. For more information on staying at or visiting this remarkable travel destination readers are encouraged to check out these illuminating websites: www.pinelandfarms.org; www.librafoundation.org.
(Editor’s Note: Portions of this article appeared in a Silicon Valley Newspaper in 2014)