51. Vermont : John Abele
John Abele envisioned a future in which medicine was less invasive and more accessible. To that end, Abele, son of a music teacher and World War II submarine commander, co-founded Boston Scientific in 1979. The medical-device company spearheaded the manufacturing and use of artery-opening stents, catheters and balloons. It soon opened eyes on Wall Street, too. Boston Scientific went public in 1992, and three years later, the stock’s rise made Abele a billionaire.
He started giving his money away to charitable causes shortly thereafter. In 1997, he founded the Argosy Foundation, through which he and his family have given over $100 million in grants to hundreds of non-profits, including the American Cancer Society, Vermont Foodbank and FIRST, a robotics competition for school children. Though he hasn’t signed the Giving Pledge, the goal, Abele says, is to end up with zero.