Taken by Leena Butt
Taken by Leena Butt

A pledge of $900,000 from Henry Coil was made to the UC Riverside Barbara and Art Culver Center of the Arts in Downtown Riverside. Coil, a Riverside native, has been a longtime philanthropist and arts benefactor in the Inland Empire community.

“I understand that funding has always been difficult. You need large sums of money in order to do get things done. It also takes a lot of time and effort finding sources of money, whether they be grants or donations from the community,” said Coil. “It was a natural thing for me to do.”

The atrium at the Culver Center has been named the Coil Brothers Atrium, reflecting Coil’s contribution to the arts. It also stands as a tribute to John Coil of Santa Ana, and the lives of the late Horace and James Coil.

“Henry has a long association with the arts and the galleries and the museums here that is a part of the University of California,” said Jonathan Green, the executive director of UCR ARTSblock, a facility composed of the Culver Center, the Sweeney Art Gallery and the California Museum of Photography (UCR/CMP). “We are delighted that he was able to make this major donation to the ARTSblock and Culver Center. He has been very generous.”

Coil was born and raised in Riverside before he left to attend college in Berkeley, Calif. After earning an engineering degree from UC Berkeley and a law degree from Western State University in Fullerton, he joined the construction firm Marshall Tilden in 1971.

His interest in the arts comes from his belief that the arts are an important part of the overall community.

“I’m interested in the arts as an observer, but I enjoy good art and I even have a collection of art at home,” said Coil.

Fanny Ouyang, a fourth-year art history major, believes that any funding for the arts will help continue the preservation of acquired exhibition and displayed art. Ouyang also notes that rarely is the arts program funded so well, especially for smaller museums.

“Funding usually goes towards larger museums,” she explains. “Donations such as [the one from Henry W. Coil Jr.] are beneficial in helping people maintain the art and the museum to make sure that those who do enjoy and are interested in art will be able to experience it.”

Aside from his contribution to the arts, Coil has had a significant impact in the city of Riverside—he has been a member of the UCR Foundation Board of Trustees since 1982, serving as board chair from 1999 to 2001. He also served on the Riverside City Council between 1963 and 1967.

Coil has also served on the boards of a number of community organizations, including the Riverside Arts Foundation, the American Red Cross, the Community Foundation, the Mission Inn Foundation, the Boy Scouts, the Carolyn E. Wylie Center for Children, Youth and Families, and the National Council for Resource Development.